Here we have a lovely little item I picked up on my last (probably actually the very last) visit to the UK after having moved to Germany again (since the Home Office refused my wife’s leave to stay in the UK, despite having a 5-year European leave to stay as the result of being married to an EU citizen…).

I found this on Gumtree and just couldn’t resist it for the price and it was right next door to the ‘Chunnell’ terminal in Ramsgate, where I was due a few hours later!

It came with a very nice motor and all the various brackets and drive system complete, along with a range of changewheels etc.

The bearings are just so smooth and despite its ‘used’ appearance, it is in fact in very good condition and has been well maintained. I did a bit of research into these and they are very capable, but not as well-known as the ubiquitous postwar Myford ML7 and Super7 lathes, for which there are a great many spares and accessories available.

Drive for the leadscrew engaged (the front oiler cap is open)
Nice and smooth and quiet, too!

For one of these, it is necessary to keep an eye out for second-hand parts and accessories, but they are still about, if not in the abundance of the later stuff – and for much more amenable prices.

I worked out the back-gear arrangement (giving it six-speeds) and it is a great little lathe with thread-cutting capability, including left-hand threads.

It also came with the original face-plate and catch-plate and a spare saddle faceplate, some very effective wick-oilers for the main bearings, and added improvements to the tailstock-wheel and a handle on the traverse (very handy, if you can’t get used to the ‘reversed’ operation of the slide travel direct off the rack!)

The picture below will give a better overview and the last one shows it in size relation to the Super7

Please ignore the chaos, these pictures were taken a few weeks ago before I got organised… 🙂

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Ready to go!

This part is ready to have the tooling made, if there is enough interest!



As a first move forward in the Ukraine setup might be this prewar kick-start/gear-change rubber B60/2, which for at least twenty years has been sold under this part-number with a closed end… which is completely wrong! And yes, I realise that the ‘script’ is slightly different to the original, but that is intended, for my own ‘protection’ of intellectual property. The original rubber was for both applications and was OPEN-ended and as such, I will be selling them in pairs, for around £11,00.  I shall be getting the tooling together to make those soon, hopefully I will be able to sell a few, too, as the tooling is not cheap for injection-mouldings…And so the parts will also not be ‘cheap’, as a result of low-volume, high tooling cost and high quality of the material used. Unfortunately, most people only see the ‘price’, which has to be a reflection of the effort required, firstly to make an authentic product and the tooling-cost to achieve an end, without the prospect of selling ten thousand a year…

Nevertheless, I shall continue in this ‘vein’, the next products being probably top and bottom yokes and links for all the Webb forks, rear stands as original-looking as possible, some Miller electrics that might be interesting, mudguard-sets complete with stays that will actually FIT and be right for the year and model of bike etc. etc..

This has become a sort of  ‘Crusade’ in my semi-retirement, to right the ‘wrongs’ of the belief that we simply have to ‘make do’ with the crap that is on offer and people like Mike at Groves serve us up with (or what he is served up with). If HE doesn’t have the clout to get things made properly, then who else has? The problem is that he is a business man with LITTLE or NO INTEREST AT ALL in the bikes or their users and their problems, if it does not serve his purpose of making a profit to stay in business. Such a shame!

The same appears to be the case for the Velocette Owners Club Spares Scheme, but for a different reason (I suspect). Every other marque seems to have a working and profitable spares scheme, what is wrong with the Velocette Club scheme?? Why does it not make a profit? They seem to insist on remaining so far removed from the modern needs (like being ABLE to order per email and ACCEPT PAYMENTS quickly and conveniently) and requirements of the Velocette owners as to be worse than pre-historic in their methods. Sorry guys, this is the 21st Century already! All the dealers and producers of the parts are only interested in the money that they expect to be able to earn from the rich bastards that have old bikes (who have for years to put up with poor service and parts), but that our own spares-scheme also has to rub salt in the wound? In fact I am sure that many owners buy from ‘other suppliers’, purely because they can’t be bothered to take three weeks of backwards and forwards to achieve anything with the Club.

THAT is why I am disappearing to to the arse end of the universe to change things, maybe only one-at a-time, back to what they ought to be – as they ‘were’. Will you be ‘there’ to support me? I doubt it. SO many still live in the seventies and expect to pay only pennies for hard-earned graft for their bikes that are now worth twenty times what they got for them only ten years ago. So I have no intention. wish or hopes of ever getting rich from the tight-asses that I see, begrudging the postage on headlamp-clips (only a few quid), which protect their now over £200-worth of headlamp shell.

You know what? I don’t care, I will STILL make the stuff that I do, because it has to be done, and I don’t give a damn that 90% of the owners of Velocettes are too to tight to want to pay a realistic price for stuff that is of BETTER quality, than the worn-out SHIT that they still use (and continue to buy cheap and useless replacements for) and endanger their won (and possibly their loved ones’) lives with.  (Oh, she unfortunately died in the accident, but the brakes were ORIGINAL!)

Oh yes, there are a few brake-shoes and other parts that I am interested in making, too, but will they ever be bought by  bunch of people that I still see coming to my workshop asking for used chains and absolutely original exhausts from the fifties, but only willing to part with pennies?

I’ll be honest with you now… If I think that the parts that I make, will be used on a bike that will never see the road, I am inclined to refuse to sell them. I am not really interested in the  parts merely being moved form ‘my box’ into ‘your box’ of bits, unless it is going to be USED. Does that make sense?? You might just as well buy the CRAP that comes from other sources, if all it is going to do is it in your bloody living-room for the rest of its days.

I make BIKE-PARTS and not some decorative embellishment to Heaps of  Scrap-Metal on private display, without function or appreciation beyond their intrinsic ‘value’

Sorry, it had to be said.

© peter gouws 2014

Made on a mac

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2014-03-23 11.53.09

LOTS of Velocettes at Brooklands…

For those of you a little too far away to catch the ‘action’ at Brookands, whether at ‘home’ or abroad, here are a few pictures of the event. The pictures speak for themselves for the most part and will require little extraneous comment! The weather was beautiful spring-time stuff, with a spattering of rain and crisp sunshine, with little wind until the afternoon.

To get the full “value” of these pics taken with a phone (what else!), please click to get them shown full size…

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The display in sheer quantity, diversity and quality was astounding, especially as the event was only made public at such short notice in the last Fishtail! Fabulous turnout!

One could almost believe that there were more ‘cammy’ Velos produced than all the others put together, judging by the amount of MkI and MkII KSSs and KTTs that were there!!

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Enjoy the pictures and just see to it that if at all possible, that you can make it to the next ‘event’ of this kind, wherever it might be!!

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Yours truly below, soon after arrival, photographed by a friendly fellow ‘Velocetter’ who I also had a great chat to! My beard not yet quite as long as some of the lively tales that I heard recounted there, either!!

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Only a few of rigid MSSs (3 actually)

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And the usual expected amount of RS framed bikes. Surprisingly not in the same numbers as the K-series, perhaps due to the historically ‘sporting nature’ of the venue?

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I particularly liked this mod, the oil-cut-off lever being so long, that kickstarting the bike would immediately ‘draw attention to’ the fact that it was in the ‘off’ position!

There was also a spattering of MACs (iron and alloy) and a couple of MOVs (all racing bikes, not a ‘road bike’ among them, unfortunately!). The Two-strokes were also there, but not (as could be expected!) in great numbers… even a Ladies’ bike was there, dated 1925…

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Some of Ivan Rhodes’ bikes were also even there, as photographed below;

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A very early two-stroke was also there, but for some reason the photo seems to have disappeared!!

Well, as you can see, there was a fantastic turnout, few ‘personalities’ were also there, making the day was well worth the visit. Altogether a very pleasant trip, including pleasant words and technical tips exchanged with others with far more experience and knowledge than oneself!!

© peter gouws 2014

Made on a mac

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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,


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”…

Please help!

© peter gouws 2014

Made on a mac


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The ‘right’ saddle.

Let’s face it, if we actually use our machines, one of the things that gets a fair amount of wear and tear, is the saddle. Whichever type we have fitted, at some stage it will need re-covering. There are new covers available which are of a reasonable shape and size, but somehow they look and feel wrong… why? They might even have that ‘grainy’ look (if a trifle exaggerrated…?) of the old ones, but they are too ‘shiny’ for my taste, some of them are really smooth and the actual material used seems thinner and softer, somehow ‘sticky’ to the touch. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I’m not particularly fond of them as they stand. Then again, perhaps I’m just too used to the look of the worn out ones to remember what they really looked like when they WERE new!

Even more of a problem arises when, if, you don’t have a saddle at all for your ‘project’! The pattern items that I have seen recently (which now all come from one manufacturer, it would seem!) are fine as far as they go, but not quite the type fitted at least to Velocettes, as far as I can ascertain. The size and the shape is not bad, actually and only marginally different to those fitted originally, though the paint finish on both of these ones is not pretty and I have no comments to make on the material quality as yet. I am still not quite sure whether the frame I have actually is original, it is, however, very much closer to original spec than the other one. It doesn’t matter at all, the main thing is that it illustrates the difference between those that are readily available on eBay and the jumbles and what has to be done to make them look ‘right’ and, thankfully, actually fit!

Here what I used to think was an original saddle frame: Having looked at the workmanship and finish, I am now dubious as to its origininality.

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Here the simple rivet fixing for the cross-strap, that makes the difference for Velocette use.

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The saddle-frame itself of made of a similar thickness of material, but there is one major difference which needs to be addressed, after which it is difficult to pick from the original! There is a strip which has to be added to the back of the frame, where the springs on a Velo (and probably other makes, too!) are fitted. The one that I had was supplied with some angle brackets (loose) which were supposed to do the same job and could be fitted, theoretically at least, the right distance apart to the rear of the frame for that purpose. A little makeshift and possible not as strong as the original setup, it also is a dead give-away that the ‘wrong’ saddle is fitted. The bump in the middle is, of course, to clear the mudguard when the springs are compressed over a bump in the road and is mirrored on the saddle-cover of the original.

Here the newish pattern (Might also be a few years old…) showing that the rear strap is missing for this particular application:

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In the end, I suppose, who cares? Well, I do happen to know that there are those out there that DO care, and while I’m not always a stickler for absolute originality, it IS nice to get it at least looking right, even if not an ‘actual’ original part! Here are the two that I have showing the differences. As there have probably been many different suppliers over the years of these saddles, it is difficult to make absolute measurements and comparisons, but a look at the photos will give an idea of the differences that have to be addressed, in a ‘generic’ way. Thus, armed with a piece of paper and a pencil and a little ‘artistic license’, a template for the rear ‘strap’ can be quickly made up and either  cut at home in the workshop or given to someone else to cut… it is quite thick material and most of us will not have the kit to cut something even as simple as this in a reasonable time. Bending, on the other hand, should be done at home to ensure a good fit and shouldn’t present a problem if you have a decent sized vice!

You will notice that the front portion on the pattern saddle is a little different to the original, which section is ‘better’ is purely a matter of taste. The front mountings will have to be manufactured to fit the particular bike that the saddle is intended for, so I have left them out.

Here the nose of the one with the cross-strap:

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And the ‘nose’ of the other one:

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The covers themselves pose a slightly different  problem. Allow me a personal note here, as I have definite preferences in this department! I know that many decry the use of dead cow for the covering, the reason given usually being susceptibility to moisture and rain. Hm. Actually I agree, BUT (no pun intended) when riding, my rear-end is usually planted firmly in the saddle and so it doesn’t get wet from the sky above anyway! After getting off, I always have a plastic bag handy to place over it (like the cycle-riders) if it should be raining, which it only does for 25% of the year anyway. How many owners of machines fitted with these types of saddle go for runs in the rain anyway, I ask? There aren’t that many, so I really don’t understand why the voices are so loud. Any old hair-net will do, actually, but if you have had the dexterity to sew the saddle in the first place, a suitable rain-cover shouldn’t be an insurmountable problem!

(The older US manufacturers use metal seat-pans that are merely ‘faced’ with leather, and so they have completely different set of rules to follow when considering replacement)

Here is a very good copy, if not an original cover. This one fits the base properly and will be anyway only used to copy for my ‘proper’ leather one.

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Here from the underside…

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… And I have made patterns from this one for anyone interested in having a go themselves, which I will post to you if requested. I suppose that I could also scan them or draw it up in a CAD program, but then the problem is printing them out… Perhaps in two halves? If you have a modern pattern saddle to re-cover, you will have, of course, to use the cover that came with it to make the pattern for the replacement, if you are going to go to the trouble of making one yourself, rather than just buying one ‘off the shelf’.

On the other hand, I do love leather as a covering for one particular reason (apart from the ‘optics’): Have you ever ridden a long distance on a plastic saddle (of any kind – even a modern bike?). The sticky, sweaty bum (and other bits) syndrome is undeniably present in any climate and if riding is continued over a few days, can lead to the famous jungle crotch-rot, which is most unpleasant, including to those in the immediate vicinity…

We should all wear leather or some sort of protective clothing (Modern hi-tech textiles are fantastic! Light and offering better ‘breathing’, despite being far more waterproof…). And so there we have it: BREATHING! Why bother with a seat on your pants that breathes, if the saddle provides an impervious barrier to the expulsion of (in the summer at least) rapidly accumulating body-fluids originally designed to cool the skin by evaporation, in the resultant hot-spots. Very counter-productive and actually counter-intuitive. Plastics were only chosen by virtue of cheapness and availability (= convenience). The plastics chosen being impervious to fluids, also collect bacteria very nicely and, of course, hinder any evaporation while seated in contact with them, all very much in the best possible taste, I know, but these things are sent to try us (and sometimes out partnerships…). These (bacteria and fluids, not the partnerships!) then have nowhere else to reside or go and therefore collect in whatever material is between the plastic saddle surface and your skin. How savoury!

SO LEATHER, on the other hand, allows the soaking and ‘wicking off’, and therefore evaporation from the ‘under-surface’ of the saddle where there is some considerable airflow, of any perspiration and so provides a very comfortable seat base over extended distances. This situation is ONLY present if there is not an impervious sponge rubber underneath, which then causes the fluid to accumulate in the leather covering (and fester there, instead of ‘in yer trousers’,) which is not really much better, as it soon returns from whence it came as the moisture accumulates over a certain level.

Leather, then, is only good if there is sufficient flow of air around it (usually on the underside, as we are sitting on the top!), which brings us to the next point: The padding! If the seat cover is plastic, it matters not if there is sponge rubber under it, BUT, if the cover is leather, it needs a breathable padding that gives sufficient hindrance to the springs digging into one’s posterior, whilst not hindering the airflow and wicking action. Unfortunately, the wonderful horsehair matting that was used on the underside of original (although plastic covered!) saddles is unfortunately no longer available (as far as I can see, and I have tried, believe me) and so an alternative has to be found, even if you are going to re-cover with plastic.

The nearest I could find (and PLEASE, if you have a better alternative, let me know!) is the coconut-matting found at garden-centres for lining hanging-baskets! It is the right thickness and firmness and is of the right ‘consistency’: The only trouble with this is that it produces so much ‘dust’ if the underside is left open. I also assume that due to this, that it probably eventually thins out, too. There are even plastic-coated versions (I can’t remember what for) which wouldn’t do that, which I would not use for obvious reasons. So with the coconut-matting, it has to be covered with something on the ‘outside’ with some other material open enough to aerate, but woven closely enough to stop the coconut ‘hairs’ dropping everywhere…

Here just roughly sewn together, as the stitching to the cover keep it all in one piece once done!

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That coconut fibre is really a little too messy for my taste (see below, after a good shake over the leather… just imagine what a nice shiny black mudguard would look like!

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The BEST and the most efficient (and ‘authentic’) padding comes from old VW Beetles and Vans at the breakers-yards… which used to have the very same padding over the springs as Lycette or Terry did! BINGO! One of the only remaining sources, but not always readily available in a suitable condition, quantity or price!

And so to the topside:

If  it is to be made of some kind of leather, chrome-tanned leather is imperative for this kind of sprung seat, as veg-tanned leather will sag dramatically after the first ride and will look dreadful, no matter how thick or thin. For sewing the type of saddle that we generally use, Wallaby or Kangaroo is the best for maximum resilience and weather-resistance. It is thin and extremely tough, elastic (so it keeps its shape well) and easy to sew. The surface is suitably ‘grained’ or is at least matte and so non-reflective. It is not available everywhere, but is well worth the search, if leather is what you decide on. All the ‘Conolly’ type hides tend to be too thick and a bugger to sew and deteriorate rapidly in the sunlight if not meticulously kept. So yes, I agree, leather can be a pain in general, but if you get the right sort… If necessary, I can possibly get access to Wallaby hides in limited quantity from Australia, but I have no idea of the price, to which postage would have to be added. The last ones that I bought in AUS were about a tenner each, but I have no idea if my then source has ANY more left, let alone at that price.

Here some nice little Wallaby skins:

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And here a leather saddle-top marked on the inside in white pencil for final cut of the triangular ‘inserts’ and sewing.

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Topside, showing minimal, but pleasant, natural grain. (not ‘printed’)

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And something I ‘scored’ from an upholsterer, which I was going to use to ‘seal’ the ‘precipitation’ from the coconut fibre with…

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For simulated leather or ‘leatherette’ tops, there are plenty available in all sorts of ‘grain’ finishes from most retailers dealing in fabrics, the choice is broad and they are very reasonably priced. The difference in quality and price will depend on thickness, UV resistance and the cloth backing. Buy the best quality that you can afford and choose the surface finish that you desire! They are all cloth backed and half a meter is enough for a couple of saddles. More important than with the leather, keep an eye on which way it stretches: If across the frame, it will ‘sag’ in between the springs quicker than if the stretch is longitudinal, but this will have no effect on the actual function of the saddle, only the way it looks. Here the important thing to watch as with any saddle, is the firmness of the ‘stuffing’ between the top and the springs, that is what makes the difference in the comfort, especially if you have a bony backside.

As ever, I would be appreciative of any helpful comments or additions to the opinions stated here, which are only based on personal experiences!

At this point I must shamefully admit that the saddle-covers that I have previously made have wandered into private hands in Australia and therefore that I have nothing that I have made to show you here! As you can see, there is one in the making, which shall be followed up on once finished, but I have a few weeks of concentration on other things in the meantime… Perhaps I will fit it in, though. I would still rather  source a VW seat, before I commit myself to going to the trouble of sewing another one for myself…

© peter gouws 2014

Made on a mac

Comments Off on Lycett type saddles etc.


The the old year is gone

… and can be done and dusted. A strange mix for me, towards the end more and more challenging. The time of year when I should be doing my own bike and helping others do theirs, ‘God willing’, has left me with a logistically difficult re-location which has taken all my time up, for one reason and another! SO the bike has been delivered to the storage unit in Camberley ( a half-hour from here) and there is still no-where to get my kit set up (yet!). Very frustrating, especially in view of the fact that I had hoped to start getting the bike finished for a run in the spring to the Ukraine! Well, it looks like that will have to be postponed at least until mid-summer. Still a lot to do on the bike, so we’ll just have to see how that goes!

Other news is that I SHALL be going to Vinnitsya (Вінниця) in the Ukraine from the 9th to the fifteenth of January, just after the Orthodox Christmas break and despite the tense internal political situation revolving around the ‘Europe’ issue… I will report on that when I return! Whatever happens, it should be an interesting trip, and I hope to be able to gain some contacts there and might even move there for a few years to set up a  decent relationship with the ‘industry’ there… Dnipropetrovsk is the centre of the Russian space-research, developement and production and their power-units are also used in the European space program. Their technology is second-to none in Europe and so I am hoping to take advantage of that for the making of my humble parts, in order to ensure best-possible quality of production and materials technology, whilst maintaining a healthy cost-effectiveness ratio. This should please everyone, I hope!

Moving on from here, there are a few more minor parts that will be coming off the production line within a few  months, which will be followed by Webb fork castings. I’m looking for a reliable tin-basher/roller that can make proper reproduction guards in the four sizes necessary (KSS, rigid MSS/KTS/, MAC/MOV and possibly GTP) along with the plethora of stays for them (each set different in detail!), to be available in complete sets together with the guards, or guards and sets of stays separately. The stays will be of 304 Stainless, 1.5mm thick and built to last, as are my headlamp stays, which are at the moment sold out (and I am looking for someone to make them in the UK for me). I will get the tubes bent and pressed, the fittings I will turn and TIG to the stays, using Jigs made on original guards and frames for the relevant bikes.

So much for the immediate plans! First I need a workshop-space to setup in, but before that, I have to know where I will be living (I mean in which country or county!). Still a way to go, but this has to be set up properly. The difficulty in the UK is getting a foundry close enough for me to keep an eye on the casting process and to develop personal relations for an understanding of what I need. Short of moving to Birmingham (not an option at present), I see difficulties there! Since I need both ferrous and non-ferrous (brass, bronze, alumimium and elektron), it will take some time to set up, I suspect. Prerequisite to that is to get some decent patterns made!

Cast front hubs, authentic rear stands and a few other goodies are lined up for the lovers of rigid bikes, not just in the interest of correctness for the period, but offering definite safety and performance advantages. Some Miller electrical switchgear and bits and pieces, too, in proper Bakelite, not Nylon. Keep an eye out for detail stuff that has not been available for decades to enhance your experience and all built exactly to original specs if not better, but retaining absolutely original looks and fitting properly, without fettling. Proper assembly diagrams and caveats to check before fitting, too, will be included as well as minimal packaging.

Parts that have been inaccurately made or just plain wrong and then incorrectly sold for years, leading to the belief that they ARE the same as the originals, will at last be able to be replaced with correct items. My pledge is to dispel the myth that we just have to put up with what is there, because it is ‘all that is available’. It may be a long, slow haul and I don’t expect to get rich by doing so, but I am convinced that if we all contribute the small bit that we can, eventually sanity will return to the Classic Bike world, bit by bit.

There are also a few projects afoot apart from my own bike: another ‘import’ from Australia which will be judiciously restored with restraint by it’s owner, which I hope to be able to lend a hand with. Here are the pictures that he sent me by email, and I went to see the bike a week later.  Some parts are missing and broken, some of which I just ‘happen to have’ and I’m sure that it will be a fun experience, especially since he has never had a Velocette before! Unusual are both hubs and brakes, especially that the front hub drives the speedo, but not off the brake-plate, but like a later rear-wheel-drive from a gearbox on the opposite side of the brake-plate (which incidentally looks like a ‘Webb’ item instead of the usual ‘Bluemels’ job). The rear could even be rather special, we’ll have to wait for a closer look! The original owner used to do some racing in cars in AUS, so this has been modified to look a bit like a ‘flat-tracker’ with ‘bobbed’ guards. Bit of a mix, really! Every bike tells a story about its owners, isn’t that true!





© peter gouws 2014

Made on a mac

Comments Off on Saved rigid MSS from Australia

2013-11-16 12.02.302

Space-Poor play-room…

Well, I’ve been here in the UK 5 weeks now and not all has gone smoothly, not least of all the merry-go-round with the banks/licenses/ID etc. Since I have been out of the country since 1981 (!), there have been a few changes to things like Anti-Terrorism- and Anti-Money-Laundering-Legislation and -Requirements which have not made the return logistically a pleasant one. On top of that, my belongings and workshop etc. are still ‘all at sea’, and so I cannot actually ‘DO’ anything constructive… much! Some issues with a decently constant Internet connection and other small problems have also contributed to the general chaos!

I DID have (or made) the opportunity to pop over to see the Overseas Secretary of the VOC (Velocette), Wayne Coulthard, for a GREAT weekend, meet his lovely wife and have a ‘play’ in his garage – my fingers were veritably ‘itching’ to get my hands on a bike! – and enjoy a glass or two of red, fermented grape juice in the best of company! He is a ‘space poor’-sufferer at present and has his challenges when working on bikes in the winter, since he has to wheel things around to get at them, as can be seen in the pictures (kindly permitted to be made public!).

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Wayne and a nice 1958 MAC! There were six built with the chrome tank and when Wayne bought it in 1970, it had been painted over; since he has had it, he has put the twin-leader on the front and the appropriate rear hub, the tacho and a TT carb… WERRY nice!!

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Rigid 1946 MAC imported from Canada, a bitsa: Engine and gearbox from Toronto and frame from Michigan. Spot the (wrong) timing cover, while the real one is being modified!!

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An interesting 1967 ‘bitsa’, built in an originally blue and new venom frame, this one originally built as a fast sidecar rig with rear-sets, ace bars and a tuned MSS engine (though original gearbox ratios). It has been beckwards and forwards to Ralph Seymour’s, who blueprinted the engine for Wayne in 1990. Built as a fast tourer with the original big tank with Velocette script transfer correct for the year… Tasty! Nice clean lower-CR ‘Clubmans-MSS’

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A ‘fully’ original MSS in preparation… This time a 1947, from Ontario! Just about to get the (original, of course!) rear-mudguard fitted, YAY!

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…and a good bitch!

Wayne has a number of ‘projects’ nearing completion above with the unfortunately now common and very niggling issues that we never had 20, 30 years ago… I wonder what happened to going to yer friendly-neighbourhood, even generic, bike shop for a brake or carburettor cable (and if it just happened to be Ted Bloomfield’s place in Leytonstone -God rest his soul!-, for a few lewd insults thrown in for free!), take it home and just fit it!

Ask almost ANYONE now, and none of them can guarantee that it actually fits! NONE of them! Most can’t even begin to give an answer. Why is it that then, whether it was a Velocette, BSA, Enfield, Matchless or Triumph ‘dealer’, the OEM or Wassel or whatever cable fit any bike with that carbie or whatever? Wassel and AMAL and some of the others are still there in NAME, but what happened to the cables? Surely they haven’t had to change in all those years? Wasn’t that one of the attractions of the British bikes of the era? For more than 20 years at a time, each marque or model-range all shared the same bits mostly from top to bottom, which could be obtained anywhere, which would fit first time and were relatively inexpensive.

So what happened? Have AMAL now changed the carburettors (retrospectively as well! – THAT’s clever!) all to have individual measurements for their throttle and choke cables?? It would seem so… I don’t think that I am the only one that has to buy five cables to make one fit, then take it off again and modify all the others to work, so that a proper spare can be carried with confidence in the spares-pocket/wrap or toolbox?? The prospect of replacing a broken cable in the middle of nowhere at night in the rain, with one that needs an hour and special tools to fit is sheer madness!

This process has to be carried out for 90% of ALL spare parts or replacements these days. WHY? Why did they fit THEN, and almost definitely do not NOW? Have the bikes changed? Grown up, for example? An interesting thought!

No, I think that the problem lies elsewhere and to an extent with the ‘users’, or sadly what most have become the ‘collectors’ of bikes that have been ‘restored to death’ with nary an intention to ever run them ever again, and if so, only on a trailer to the next meet, fire it up once and then trailer it back home again into the safety of the heated underground garage or mantlepiece in the lounge!

Yes, I have recently avidly read and taken advice from “How to Make Friends and Influence People”.

Problem number one probably started many years ago when tin-ware, as an example, began being made for general consumption by ‘other than original manufacturers’ for specific models of specific marques. Generic mudguards and such had always been around, and all the dealers and distributors stocked them a s sporty and otherwise less expensive alternatives to original tin, that was often discarded for the lighter ‘pattern’ or generic items. Of course it was understood that these would have to be individually fitted. So, holes had to be drilled IN THE PATTERN PARTS and brackets (if supplied) or had to be made as well. The real problem starts to creep in when years down the track, replacements (or a return to the original are sought and the bike itself or mountings have, unbeknown to the present owner, been modified by the past owner… then ‘diversity sets in and ostensibly ‘original’ parts, then have to be modified to fit the now ‘unoriginal’ bike… Chaos soon reigns as almost every bike then takes on its own character and is modified with each ‘new’ addition.

After a while, of course, everyone has so become used to having to modify everything to fit, that nobody (least of all the manufacturers of new replacements, ahas any idea what is original anymore… or even cares! Then we have BIG problem number three: ‘WE’ order a part from “Earwig’s Vintage Parts Emporium” and it sits on a shelf for two years before even being attempted to fit to the bike (or car or whatever), by which time, when we complain that it doesn’t fit, either Earwig’s has gone broke, changed their name, been bought up by some multinational concern, or has changed suppliers and, you know what? Couldn’t give a damn, either! And why should they anymore??

There are, of course, quite other problems that have crept in… How many parts out there that are nothing like their originals, but are now just marketed as replacements, because in the meantime, no-one is around that actually is quite sure that they are NOT? (at least not anyone with a loud enough voice!)

Even worse are the parts that have been made to repair or replace and fit the PATTERN parts that in the meantime have been fitted, and no longer will fit the ORIGINAL parts!! I had this question to face when I made the ‘Star’ insert! I could make it to fit the ‘available’ pattern Miller lights, but they might well have not fitted the originals…. A ‘no-brainer’ in modern English, as I would rather have to have them being modified to fit the pattern parts, than to find that there was no way to fit them to the originals, savvy?

So we put up with buying a cable and having to modify it to fit (which the dealer never finds out about and can’t (even if they DID even want to) pass the information on to their supplier, who will not bother to do anything either, because idiots like us will continue to buy their incorrect crap for eternity anyway! The dealer can’t change supplier anyway, because they know that there is only one manufacturer anyway, where X, Y and Z all buy from!

Well, what has to be done or indeed CAN be done about it? Are YOU prepared to buy whatever is there, just because you are led to believe that it is all that is available, or that there is nothing that YOU can do about it? WHY, for example, can mudguard not be made that fit and have holes in the right place? The FRAMES were all the same for a Rigid MSS (or even a MkII KSS), the same goes for the MAC/MOV bikes, for example… OK, so Tanks can be a bit of a problem on the swingarm bikes where lugs get chopped off and relocated by their owners to fit larger or smaller items, but even then, there were only a few different possibilities (for the frames, anyway – quite a different story is the diversity of tanks, for example! Wayne is the tank-fetishist, He can tell you how many different tanks were produced for each mode…I have lost count! Since I only really know my way about the Rigid MSS/KSS/KTS stuff in that respect, I have restricted myself to a small number to cope with!

So, what goes into a bike actually? It can’t be THAT difficult to make the ‘right’ stuff, can it?

Despite many years of manufacture, 3rd-Party products were limited mostly to carburetion, lighting and associated electrical items like switches, some ignition parts and things like twist-grips, levers and some tools – and tyres and rims, of course!

Veloce produced all their tinware in house, frames, engines and gearboxes. Where engine-plates came from is immaterial as they were easy enough to get right for each model. OK, Bluemels made brakes, Webb & Dowty made earlier forks and Veloce made their own after around 1950. There is a certain confusion that can be had for free regarding various differences in clutch parts, but most of the rest was not difficult, as the parts all came from known sources, distributed exclusively by the factory!

Over the entire time after the war, there were only four types of carburettor ever fitted to 99% of British bikes over 250cc: The 276, monoblock, TT and concentric (I don’t think that GP were ever fitted as an option to road-bikes? OK, so different choke-sizes and sometimes float-chamber setups, but what the heck, the throttle-cables and choke-cables were all the same for each type, or not? One for single carbie and single-pull throttles, one for twin-pull throttle setups and twin carbies and one for single-pull throttle and junction-box for multiple carbs. EASY! ALL throttle and twist-grips had the same dimensions for cable ends (well, 90% did…) and the only exception is probably the Veloce push-me-pull-you setup designed before the war for the use on hand-change bikes…

I don’t understand why they can’t be made to fit! For each required LENGTH of cable overall (and there can’t be TOO many differences there, either) the ‘free ends’ must surely always be the same, whether there is an adjustor in the middle or not, or am I missing something here?

Clutch and brake-cables are another story, of course, and have to be matched to brake hub levers and handlebar levers with and without fitted adjusters etc. individually… but even here, a 1969 Bonnie or a 1955 MSS would have had the same cables fitted for that model, probably for years on end. Given a known front-brake and handlebar combination of a given make and model of bike, a cable should here also be ‘standard’ or at least possible to ascertain easily.

Admittedly, if you want to put a Brembo four-leader on your LE, you will have to make your own cables and most of the rest of the bike, too!

How many Speedometer-cable-end dimensions were there at the drive end? WHY are some too THICK to push into the drive? Come on guys, it’s not THAT hard, is it? And how does this stuff get into the marketplace?

Because WE are too apathetic to DO anything about it and the dealers couldn’t give a toss and can’t be bothered to try anything out (against what?), even if they DO know that they don’t fit: most of them won’t even send them back, either ,and they just get replaced into stock for the next tosser to buy! YAY!!

If we are clever, we mark the parts before we send them back (with flourescent marker, for example…). When was the last time that YOU received the original part that you returned again, after three other returns of the same part that didn’t fit from the same dealer? Would you know if that happened? I would and it has happened, believe me!

I rest my case…

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I wonder where he got that nice-looking star from on the rear light?? 🙂 🙂

© peter gouws 2013

Made on a mac

Comments Off on Visit to Wayne… and a grumble

2013-10-08 16.23.38

Well, I can only say that a ‘helluva lot’ has been going on in the last few weeks, not least of which is the fact that I will be relocating – with the business – to the UK on the 19th October, so in 9 days.

The reasons are many, one of the stronger points being to move back closer to my children, all of whom are in Germany! While there is plenty going on here in South Australia regarding Veteran and Vintage bikes, and Velocettes in particular, there is a larger client-base in Europe and the UK in particular. I am not going to leave Australia completely and will maintain a presence here through various people and institutions, however it is important for me to establish connections with foundries and other services in the UK or Germany to set up production in Europe, thus facilitating postage and getting around long transit times and import duties for the ‘locals’. Australia is a LONG way away and as such is, admittedly, not so convenient. Once established in the UK (or wherever), I can then come back here and carry on where I left off, perhaps also taking the time to look at setting up some kind of operations in the USA or Canada, too in the mid-term future.

I don’t expect to get rich from all this, but I hope that at least my children will be able to have a little pocket-money coming in fairly regularly in the longer term.

The whole workshop has actually been at a standstill since nearly a year ago, due to the necessity to move away to the hills to look after ailing and aging parents (86 and 90) and so nothing much has actually happened at all, in fact. Apart from the ‘Star’, which I (and apparently all of my clients!) have been very pleased with, nothing new has been done for a very long time. I do have drawings and CAD/CAM prepared for a number of projects, one of which being an accurate and ‘proper’ kickstart/gearshift rubber (B60/2) with an open end for nearly all the models built between 1935 and 1948, and some after and before those dates.

One of the first steel castings to come ‘off the line’ will be a rear stand for the rigid models post Mk I KSS (so without the spring holding it up!), but complete with bracing, cross-tube and slotted ‘ears’ for the mudguard-clamping arrangement, closely followed by Heavyweight WEBB top and bottom ‘yokes’… (By special request!)

In the between-time, it may also have come to your attention that I have changed my plans regarding the ENGINE that I will be using on my ‘daily’ and touring bike. The engine, chosen for it’s simplicity (for ‘field repair’) over the undoubted smoothness and comfort over a KSS lump, is, of course, the iron MSS unit.

This is what it looked like when I picked it up, not unusual at all, but for CUSTOMS…

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Had all to be cleaned up, as below…

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The inlet cover below, has the usual crack, which will need to be ‘TIGged’

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The cylinder-head BEFORE cleaning up…

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Whoops, I believe that a new oil-pump is in order…

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A little work needed here, too!

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All nice and clean

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Not a very popular unit it would seem, but very hard-working and reliable if built properly, I was lucky enough to get one of the last units built to fit in my one of the last frames built… so a 1947-’48 bottom-end with the engine number 8010. The last one built was, according to my publications, 8340 and since the frame is KDD 9266, probably late 1947, these are close enough to be compatible to my mind. The nice thing about this engine is that it has the taper-roller main-bearings and a few other things that make it a little more desirable for a long-distance runner.

I am already putting thoughts together regarding all the mods necessary to the oiling of cams and oil-return from the rocker cups and so the whole thing begins to take shape. I have a complete engine apart from a few nuts and bolts and acquired it all for a 1990s price, so am altogether a very happy chappy.

All in a rather sorry-looking state, everything had to be dismantled, the cases split etc. for cleaning,m or the UK customs and quarantine would have played havoc with me, so all has been done and is all packed away, ready for shipping from Melbourne on the 19th, too!

The pictures above are in no particular order, , some already cleaned up, some not (noticeably the cylinder-head!) just showing in general what makes up such an engine. There are stripped threads, ‘gasket’ surfaces that will definitely NOT seal etc, all things that happen over the years, but ALL of which can be addressed with a little judicious welding, lapping, filing etc to make an ‘oil-tight’ (hahaha!) engine that runs reliably over a longer period and longer distances.

The first LONG trip, after being ‘trialed’ at home for a while, is initially a run over to Germany to see the ‘kids’ and rom there to the other end of the Ukraine, possibly from there up to St Petersburg and back. We will see. The trip to Dnepropetrovsk or Artemivs’k is less than from here to Darwin, so not really a problem. Should be manageable in 5-6 days riding. I don’t do more than about 600km a day these days, depending on the condition of the roads, the mount of drunkards on them (particularly after 17:00 in the ex-UDSSR-States) and the weather.

All will be reported here, as I will take the trusted Apple MacBookPro with me, of course, on all trips, not to mention the 1952 Leica for the ‘wet-film’ shots!!

© peter gouws 2013

Made on a mac

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2013-09-08 13.29.37

Ode to a Motorsickle…

Well, long promised and never seen the light of day before, here are the pictures Pud took of the GTP when he first got it back in 1968. Not in a sorry state, but 30 years old already and ‘well used’, and not exactly with a very high mileage, about 10.000. Not bad for £16! About the same time in England (actually 1972), I bought my first bike for a ‘tenner’, a much later Tiger Cub, with a blown gearbox. A few weeks later I bought a complete rear wheel with good tyre and sprocket and a complete set of gearbox internals for another £3… after placing an ad in the window of the local newsagents…

Please be patient, these pictures are large and many. Feel free to copy and use as ‘desktop’ background pictures!

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Enjoy the pictures!! Only one comment: The older man in the photos sitting on the bike is the original dealer who imported and sold the bike!

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The man in the last three pictures above is L.A Borgelt, the dealer who originally sold the bike over 30 years before these pictures were taken!

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These photos that follow are before and after shots of a rather nice magneto-ignition GTP from Victoria! You might also spot a couple interspersed with the black-and-white photos above!

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© peter gouws 2013

Made on a mac

Comments Off on GTP ‘Before and After’ Album

Promises, promises…

I had promised that I would describe a quick ‘field-strip’ of a gearbox, in this case the one on the GTP, which is similar to all other pre-swingarm models. Actually the swingarm models are very similar and only differ in detail from this procedure.

First to come off are the footrest and gear-change pedals as previously described, both because they are in the way! You might also have to remove the exhaust-pipe, depending on how it runs. So that’s about three to four nuts. It might be an idea to let the oil out of the box in a controlled fashion at some stage, now is as good a time as any, while we are undoing things.

If stuck really out in the middle of nowhere, the problem arises of refilling with the old oil after replacing everything else, so it’s a good idea to scout around for a suitable container, before opening the ‘tap’. I generally have some kind of plastic water bottle for the trip anyway, but a coke or lemonade bottle will do the job just fine (I just don’t happen to drink those!!). Even dirty oil is better that none and there is usually some rubbish plastic bottle or something similar within a hundred yards or so if you don’t have your own, discarded by some thoughtful car-driver… which can be cut open on one side to accept the oil as it pours out and can be used as a funnel to pour it back in.

Now we go to the drive side, because opening up the cover would allow the unnecessary ingress of dirt and dust carried by any wind, that makes a nice grinding-paste…. The obvious thing that has to come off now is the final-drive chainguard. To do this, disturbing the minimum, the chain first has to be ‘opened’ and secured from the ingress of dirt. Leave as much on the bike as possible, pushing it down in the middle to hang as shown and nothing (hopefully!) will trail on the ground to pick up any crud there.

Then the three bolts holding the chainguard are undone and best put in a pocket or plastic bag (always have some small ones with me on a trip for rubbish…). Then, without disturbing the two parts that are inserted into one another (possibly well stuck together and or greasy/filthy and causing paint-chip etc) the long bit has to be ‘weedled’ out of the front. If they separate easily, then it’s not a problem , the front out the front and the rear out of the rear. Otherwise, there is a simple trick to do it without separating or damaging anything!

Look at the following pictures, it’s a lot easier to do than to describe: The first bit that gets in the way of easy removal is the bracket on the long section,,so the whole lot is fed over to the left and the bracket has to go OVER the frame like this.

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Once past the frame, the rest has to come further over untile the TOP bracket at the rear of the guard approaches the vertical ‘skirt’ of the rear mudguard. Dammit, no space to get this thropugh without damage to paint ans some force…

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SO, what is needed here is a rotation about the long axis in an anti-clockwise direction, the bracket free to move in an arc between the spokes, leaving the open end of the guard now pointing upwards!

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Then, following the curve of the rear portion, it is simply rotated out! Easy!! Just like baby-shampoo, no tears!!

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Now we can go around the other side, undo the bolts/screws holding the ‘lid’ on (not forgetting the pins and the mainshaft cover and bolt, and all can be revealed.

Once the mainshaft has been freed at the cover end,

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… it can also be removed (since the chainguard is already off!) from the other side, giving access to the gear-change mechanism after the gears have been taken out with the selectors , which is presumably the reason for stripping a box whilst underway in the Simpson Desert at three in the morning by torch-light, with the dingos and kangaroos watching attentively! Well, in reality, I would probably just carry on if there was a shifting-problem, as long as I wasn’t stuck in FIRST gear, which would probably persuade me to strip the box or just ‘plonk’ for the night… depending on where I was, of course!

Replacement is obviously the reverse. This does not HAVE to be in the Simpson Desert, it is also possible to utilize this quick-strip in the comfort of your own garage or workshop… REALLY!


Next up, Pud came and picked up the bike, and brought his picture album with him, with the before and after photos of the bike as he received it in 1970 after paying £20 for it… I shall be showing those in the next few days, too!

© peter gouws 2013

Made on a mac

Comments Off on Rigid Velocette gearbox ‘field-strip’