Sunday, 22 July 2012

Hallets of Canterbury

Some way back, eager readers might remember I bought my mudguards from an eBay contact and that they were from a bike supplied by Hallets of Canterbury. Well, quite by chance Marcel Hallet, great grandson of the Marcel Hallet whose name adorns a brass plate on my front mudguard got in touch. In his own words:

Afternoon Simon.

A little bit of history. Hallets was opened by my great grandfather after the war. My grandfather and his brother also worked there. It then purchased a company called Invicta Motors the dealer for Ford, who were in financial difficulty. Invicta grew and grew over the years having Ford dealers in Ramsgate, Margate, Faversham, Canterbury. Invictas was sold to a Japanese company in the early 2000's. Hallets the building you see in the photos was knocked down around 2 years ago and now has a block of flats with shops underneath.

Marcel Hallet

And there were a few famous names associated with Hallet's:

Derek Minter (born 27 April 1932) was a British former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer. After National Service in the RAF he often became a fascinated spectator at Brands Hatch and took a job with Hallets, of Canterbury, the motorcycle dealers who were to become his sponsors. The proprietor, Ray Hallet, had been a useful road race and grass track rider himself and had taken Derek to the Isle of Man to be his mechanic in the Manx Grand Prix. Eventually Minter persuaded the company to provide him with a BSA Gold Star. Twice he entered his name for races at Brands Hatch and twice he backed out, suddenly realising that it took more bravery to turn up and race rather than watch. Eventually he plucked up courage and began to show real talent.

His best season was in 1958 when he finished the year in fifth place in the 500cc world championship.In 1960, Minter won the North West 200 race inNorthern Ireland. In 1962, he won the Isle of Man 250cc Lightweight TT.

And the local motorcycle manufacturer, Norman Cycles of Ashford:

Dealer Hallets of Canterbury entered a two-rider team in the 1959 & 1960 Thruxton 500 mile races. Les Hatch (Norman employee) and John Punnet (Greengrocer) rode a factory prepared B3 Sports, engine was specially tuned by Villiers. The B3 Sports was more or less standard, they came 2nd in the 250 class in 1959. The result boosted the Norman order book by £10,000 over night.

Marcel was kind enough to let me post these splendid photographs:

A Sunbeam S7 & A Villiers twin...

An M20 and a Gold Flash:

An Ariel single and a VB:

Another M20 and a Gold Flash:

And this is the best one. Are those my mudguards? that is certainly a Mk1 Square Four, no chrome on the tank so it must be '51 on...

Friday, 20 July 2012

More Plating...It's been every evening this week...

Well I am persisting with the zinc plating while waiting for my Bantam engine to come back. I've reworked all of the engine fasteners now, not brilliant but usable, along with parts like the clutch adjuster. I've also plated a few spacers, chain adjusters & the brake adjuster:

Quite passable I think!

Monday, 16 July 2012


So, I've started plating some Bantam parts using a 4 Amp 6V/12V battery charger and Gateros Bright Zinc kit - £59. for enough lit to make two 4.5 litre tanks. I wanted to clean up the rusty fasteners & clutch adjuster on the outside of the engine.

I started by running a die along all of the fasteners to clean the red Hermetite out of the threads. Then they went in a caustic soda electrolytic bath, followed by a rinse.

Then it's a minute in a 30% hydrochloric acid solution (brick cleaner from B & Q), and straight into the plating tank. It's a struggle to get the voltage right with a rudimentary controller in the form of a coil of resistance wire, but the results are passable - especially as I was really looking for a cadmium plate look-alike, not shiny zinc.

Here are a batch of parts in the plating tank:

And here they are again after about 20 minutes:

A 'before & after' shot:

So having tested that out, onto some more valuable (read scarce) parts. These are the steel parts from Amelia's Solex 26 AHD in the tank. Same process as before:

And here they are after plating. They are still attached to their handling wires here, but they have been  in the clear passivating solution for about 60 seconds.
And here is the carburetter assembled. All the brass has been cleaned with Farecla G3 compound, a toothbrush and a brass wire brush in the Dremel. It all looks to be in nice condition though it will need a new set of seals and some parts from David Jones, including the air bell, the Bi-Starter knob and it's bracket.

The other thing I need is to find out what the cable bracket looks like, if there was an adjuster, and where the throttle return spring goes... anyone got one I can copy?

A pleasing distance from the 'before' shot from last week!

Monday, 9 July 2012


Well, while waiting for the Bantam engine rebuild to get moving (I'm waiting for the crankshaft to come back from Rex Caunt) I've been plating fasteners using a kit from Gateros.

While I had the tank out, I thought I would get the Ariel carburetter ready and plate the steel parts. I've been experimenting with aluminium cleaning with an electrolytic soda bath, along with various household products.

Here is a household product with which I have become acquainted:

I started with a spare Zenith mower carburetter I had knocking around:

I attacked one of these with Cillit Bang descaler and got this in a few minutes:

The electrolytic bath didn't help much. I started with the Solex 26 AHD from the Ariel, which looked quite horrible to start with. These carburetters appear on several small french cars - they were specified by Ariel because the constant vacuum from the four cylinder engine can prevent a spring return slide from closing:

But after a couple of hours with a small brush & Cillit Bang:

This is what it is supposed to look like:

The next step is to make some decision on how to plate the steel parts. I fancy a nice yellow chromate passivate...

Friday, 6 July 2012

Bit quiet on the bike front...

Apologies to my regular readers once again, things have been a bit quiet. I've spent a lot of time away this month - two trips to Norway & one to Scotland - but the smoked fish in Sandefjord was lovely!

No movement on the Ariel, but the Bantam is moving ahead at Rex Caunt racing. I've had to send my crankcases over this week as Rex has found some peculiar wear that needs investigating. The workshop is still choc-a-bloc with Bantam parts, and I am getting ready to try out some zinc plating on the fasteners for the engine. I have new clutch plates and springs courtesy of Howard at Bournemouth Bantams.

And I have a new toy! Years ago I bought a 1950's Hercules bicycle at an auction (a proper one where you go and wave your hands about) and I've been thinking lately that it needs a little more... excitement. So I have bought this at a very good price on the Bay of E:

That's right! it is a Cyclemaster! It is also about 1951, and sports 26 cc of 2-stroke technology giving 0.6 bhp of raw grunt. It is very original, with it's original Dunlop Carrier tyre & rim, and it's original control levers. It is however, or appears to be, siezed.

There is an excellent site about Cyclemasters at