Friday, 5 October 2018

Fashionable gear for 40's Weekend

Some of you will know that we have a fabulous 1940's weekend here in Sheringham. The event was initially organised by the North Norfolk Railway and is still a mainstay event of their calendar, but in recent years '40's weekend has extended into the rest of the town.

Some 20,000 people visited Sheringham for this year's event, many of them turned out in 1940's costume. These YouTube videos give a good flavour of the event:

And there is a display of vintage military and civilian vehicles at the main locations: Holt NNR Station, Weybourne NNR Station, Sheringham NNR station and in Sheringham itself.

There's always a few bikes to look at:

2015 Event - Ariel W/NG from the Norfolk Motorcycle Museum at North Walsham

2015 Event - Royal Enfield WD/CO

2016 Event - Matchless G3L

And here's another G3L, a visitor from London at the 2018 event:

There's a vehicle parade on the Saturday, and this year I was riding my 1942 W/NG. Not being at all well prepared, I had no period attire to wear and I wore my Barbour lookalike - originally designed in 1936 - but that was about it. The modern flip front helmet didn't help.

The bike looks OK, the rider is trying....
So for next year I have a new hat to wear. It's a period Slazenger helmet, from the 1950's in reality:

It must be a good one, look at those famous names:

It's actually my size...

I'm not going to win any fashion competitions though.

Does my nose look big in this?
I've got these brown leather gauntlets made by Lawson's of London, known by the previous owner to date to 1960 or earlier:

They are in great condition, sheepskin inside and very comfortable. Just the sort of thing I used to wear when I started riding in the '70's.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

A new day and a new project

So today is a new day: this morning, we hoisted my Bantam into the back of a van for it to start it's journey to a new home in Teeside:

A Bantam, waiting for a van
It's been a brilliant little bike, attracting a lot of attention and getting me back into a hobby which I love and which I had missed for almost 20 years. It started me off on this writing lark, lots of blog posts, magazine articles and the Bantam Restorer's Guide, if it ever gets published...

But what now? Time for the FH to come down from the loft. It's going to become my fast road bike, possibly replacing the Square Four. My thoughts are:
  • Fully restored - it's in bits, in multiple colours, and several key items are missing. In short, it's got no patina.
  • It's going to be finished in export paint colours, because I like that and because there are a lot of maroon Huntmasters out there
  • I'm going to replace the rims with stainless, with stainless spokes and plated brass nipples - I thought about getting these built at CWC, and ask them to polish the hubs, but I'll probably build them myself as usual
  • I'll use stainless fasteners throughout. I believe Ariel's of this vintage would have had zinc plated (and not phosphated) fasteners, so in view of the proximity of the sea, dull stainless is the way to go
  • It's got a new Mk1 concentric already
  • It's currently got a 2 into 1, though I have two silencers - I think I will keep the 2 into 1, at least for a while
  • I'll tear the engine down before I decide what to do with it, but it will be rebuilt to standard specification
  • The magneto will be rebuilt by Tony Cooper
  • I need to get it built, inspected and dated to retain the original registration number. I'll do a dry build first.
To get moving, I am going to start with the frame and cycle parts. There is quite a lot of welding to do before we get to sending out for painting, so perhaps I will do this:

  1. Strip the top end and timing side off the engine, to release the head, barrel and engine plates for the dry build and to release the magneto and dynamo for reconditioning.
  2. Put the frame on the bench, and assemble the gear box and empty cases into it
  3. Start welding the mudguards, chain guards and seat pan to trial fit tinwear and frame components
  4. Dry build, with fasteners from stock and no engine internals, wiring or cables.
  5. Register, photograph and develop the 'missing & broken parts' list
  6. Send black items (cycle parts) out for powdercoat 
  7. Send the wheels out for rebuild
  8. Send the levers and handlebars out for plating
  9. Send the tanks, toolbox, and mudguards out for paint
  10. Start the engine and gearbox rebuild
  11. Reassemble when it's all back...
  12. Wiring and cables
  13. Shakedown!
We'll see what happens!

Another Tommy Bar??

Hunting around for tools for the FH, I realised that I needed a tommy  bar to double as a tyre lever from the Ariel parts list, but I have no idea what it looks like as Ariel stopped illustrating their parts lists in 1951. Triumph used something like this:

 I needed to make one, as they were either very expensive when available or just not available. I could either start with a tyre lever and turn the end, or start with bar stock, turn it and forge it to shape. The second is undoubtedly the better approach, but I didn't fancy the forging element in my small workshop so I bought a ready made tyre lever:

I had to slim the spoon end down to get it in the hollow spindle on my lathe - one element which raises a question about my approach. I turned the plastic handle off to reveal as much plain shank as I needed for the screwdriver section.

Turning the end to suit the tommy bar holes in a typical box spanner was easy, as was grinding the screwdriver shape in the end:

The spoon end needed reshaping, and is still too thick:

Monday, 24 September 2018

Ariel Bikes

Here's an interesting web site on the Leader & Arrow - one I had not seen before:

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Portable Power Supply

Some of you may know that I tinker around with solar power from time to time and that in fact my workshop is 'off-grid'. One of the features of a lifetime spent tinkering with stuff is a lot of spare bits lying around, so when a friend was looking for a lighting system for her allotment shed and summer house I thought I could come up with something quite easily.

I had a 86W panel and a small car battery knocking about (as you do - they were part of the evolution of my workshop solar power system), so I would not have to spend much money. I also had a simple panel controller, which essentially sense battery voltage & connects the panel if the voltage is below a set point and disconnects it when it goes above the set point - pretty basic; no MPPT here.

What I needed was something to unite it all into a simple portable unit. This came in the form of a bit of an old kitchen unit and some pine offcuts:

I used the little router to cut a slot at the back:

This accommodates the foot of the battery. I sized it to suit the largest battery I had, to 'future proof' it a little. You can see how the foot of the battery is trapped in the groove:

The other foot is trapped under this little bar, made from 3 mm cold rolled sheet and retained with two M6 wing nuts:

Here's the battery in place with the controller:

Here I've added a simple modified sine wave inverter. It gives 200 W at 220 VAC, so you can charge your phone from it.

Here it is with the wiring completed. The six terminals top left are for the solar panel and for two 12V outputs. Lower down, there is a higher current termination for main battery cable, voltage sensor and feed to the inverter.

The inverter provides 200W at 220 VAC - that's about an amp, which translates to about 20 A on the DC side; I can run a 60Ah battery for 36 minutes at that rate, assuming my maximum allowable discharge is 20% - with a deep cycle battery I could increase that, and the frame will carry larger batteries.