Monday, 29 August 2016

Rear End Styling

To me, it always seems a bit of a shame when someone fits a non-period part to a bike that affects the style of it, but sometimes its unavoidable and its only a matter of taste anyway.

One of the things that really appealed to me about this W/NG is that its a unique bike in that it has I think a very Italian flavour to it, despite being a more of less stock W/NG:

Of course, bringing it from Italy it needs to have a UK number plate adding at some point, and the existing Italian style rear light is in poor shape, as is the number plate:

Having looked at a few Guzzi Falcone rear lights, this definitely looks period Italian

I'm inclined to restore this cheapo aftermarket rear light and keep the rear end as-is, but I could fit a period civilian Ariel number plate with an MT110 or similar. The number plate looks very old, so it would be ashame to change it - though obviously the Italian number plate has to go.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Sunday afternoon jaunt

I had a nice Sunday afternoon jaunt into the Norfolk countryside to visit my Mum & her sister from Australia:

You spotted it. Forks are stuck again!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016


With a bit of time to myself this evening, I was able to get the M01 magneto HT circuit back together with a clean, properly terminated HT cable and a new pickup brush out of my magneto spares box:

This works well now - nice fat spark. I need a few bits - a new HT lead boot, a pickup screw - but for now it is good.

I have a stock of fuel taps & bits, which I add to when things come along and I was able to remove the italian fuel tap, which had a metric outlet (or so I think - nothing I have would fit) and fit an old Ewarts double plunger tap:

It's go two round plungers at the moment (it should have a hexagon one for reserve) which now have new corks. For the moment, I've made a flexible fuel line to use temporarily.

I've adjusted the rear brake & footrests to try to get the rudimentary footrests in a better place and I've added the dummy 'star' to the nearside of the girders:

So having got it all working, I took it outside the garage to fire it up, and two or three kicks in, it thumps into life! I was able to ride it up the road and back before stopping the engine on the exhaust lifter. The clutch is fine, the front brake works after a fashion as well...

Then it started going a bit pear shaped with a few leaks. A bit of wet and smelly investigation later in the evening revealed a hole under the nearside front tank mount:

The float chamber was also leaking. It's 'straight' Amal float chamber with a banjo type bottom feed, so the float bowl is canted over potentially preventing the needle valve operating correctly.

It also uses a banjo fitting at the bottom, which is wrong. Taking a look at the parts lists for early 1942 and early 1943, we see that a top feed Amal 2N float chamber was fitted for engine numbers up to BH6554, which has a copper pipe to a banjo on the float chamber, all illustrated in the parts list. Later, bikes have the 1J float chamber which has a bottom feed - no banjo, but with a crank in the copper pipe and a solder nipple & nut. Fortunately, I was able to find one of these on eBay.

Amal 1J float chamber
So with a new float chamber, petrol tap corks and fuel pipe I should be able to solve the fuel leaks.

Apart from the effects of these over-long fuel tank bolts... They are not so much over length, as the fact that four of the rubber tank buffers are missing so that winding them in without paying attention neatly punches a hole in the bottom of the tank...

Villains of the piece
I'll see if a tank liner will do the job.

Meanwhile, I need to get the AOMCC dating certificate going, and get the machine insured.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Regulator Cover

Fitted the protection cover to the SQ4 regulator today:

Not very exciting, but been a long time coming.

Friday, 19 August 2016

W/NG Wiring

As I received it, the W/NG has very little wiring remaining. This is the wiring diagram I will use, but it will need a brake light and a dip switch adding:

I've made a cable list showing destinations, colours, lengths & ratings:

I know that the W/NG used coloured cotton braided cable, because it is still there and there is no evidence of the rubber cable markers that the SQ4 wiring harness was fitted with. This must have changed during the war, as the W/NG workshop manuals show pictures of the headlamp instrument panel with banded wires.

Cotton covered cables. Wonder what colour they are?
I've bought some cotton braided cable from Looks fab:

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

More bits

The postman has been earning his money this week, as they do now that we do so much shopping online and so little in-store.

From Pete Kemp we have two 6170-37 regulator covers, one for the W/NG and one for the SQ4:

Now painted:

From Jorgen Andersen, of the Danish Ariel club we have a lower chain guard for the SQ4:

And there are some fuel system parts coming from eBay...

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Replacing parts

Well, its been in the workshop for more than 24 hours, and who couldn't resist having a little look.

Courtesy of Pete Kemp, AOMCC singles spares officer, we have an old-stock kick start lever:
And we've had a look at the carburetter, moving the float chamber to the correct side:
Not sure what that loop cast into the rocker inspection cover is for!

Further investigation shows the magneto has no spark, and that the throttle slide is pretty worn.


Nice ex-WD, period Lucas Altette for the W/NG:

Just needs the right brackets, like this one:

Which looks like this when it has been beaten into submission, painted and installed:

Here's the horn bracket fitted:

...and here is the horn in place. A very tight fit indeed:

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Transporting the W/NG

As you will have seen from my 'Old Warrior' post, the bike was located in Tuscany; I needed to learn about shipping bikes around the world. Speaking to various folk, including a colleague with a penchant for vintage OHC bikes (think Velocette KTT, Norton International, Ducati etc and you will the the idea) I lucked upon Chas Mortimer Ltd.

Chas began his racing career at Brands Hatch in July 1965, aged sixteen. His father Charles Mortimer Senior raced cars and motorbikes at Brooklands in the 1930’s and then after the war both his parents raced cars at circuits such as Goodwood and Silverstone. Chas’s maternal grandfather was the chief test pilot for Vickers Armstrong in Weybridge (a few 100 metres from my office window!) and flew the first test flight on the Spitfire. He was also the pilot who did all the tests with Barnes Wallace on the bouncing bomb, a weapon that succeeded in destroying the Ruhr dams with 617 Squadron in 1944.

Coming from such a family it seems inevitable that speed was in his genes and that Chas went on to become a professional motorcycle road racer for nearly twenty years. His first ever racing bike was a 250cc Greeves Silverstone but Chas eventually became an official Yamaha factory rider during the 1970’s and 80’s winning eight Isle of Man TT races during the same period.

Today Chas still rides for Yamaha in Classic events throughout Europe during the summer months as well as running the company.
Chas Mortimer on the Yamaha TD-1
There is a very interesting story which has never been told about that bike. In Chas's own words:

Yamaha was invited to attend the centenary celebrations in the Island and they were asked to bring one of the original 4 cylinders, which were ridden by Phil Read, Bill Ivy, Mike (Michelle) Duff and the Japanese Yamaha test rider Motohashi in period (1965/6 ?). At the end of the season after the big bust up between Read and Ivy Yamaha pulled the plug on the team and all the bikes were sent back to Japan where all except this bike and a 125 were crushed. These two were sent to Yamaha's museum where they resided until the invitation to the Centenary meeting which arrived in January. They decided only to bring the 250 and took the bike from the museum and put water in it to see if it would start but it poured out as quick as they could put it in. Therefore the stripped it down and manufactured new magnesium crankcases, cylinders and heads etc to get the bike up and running. There is still one of the original mechanics alive and he rebuilt it and it fired up with the new parts on first push.

I was invited to ride it in the big parade and Michelle Duff rode it in the Yamaha Parade. We went to Jurby to set it up and we got it running sweet as a nut but I remember Bill telling me that when they seized they gave absolutely no warning unlike the old TZ’s. The Japanese mechanic had all the settings from Bill (in 1965 I think) but I was fearful of having the thing seize on me at Glen Vine or Alpine Cottage so I told him to put a size bigger jet! He tried to dissuade me telling me that it would start to misfire in 6th.and 7th.gears on full song but I insisted. Needless to say he was absolutely right and by the time I got half way down Bray Hill in started misfiring. Anyway it was an absolute missile even with a misfire and the Japs were over the moon because I caught and passed Phil around the Nook and crossed the line in front of him (he was on a Gilera 4). It was the best Island lap that I have done for years. Fantastic memories.

Chas's love for motorcycles led him to form the company and you can be sure that your vehicles will be treated with as much care as one of his own motorcycles. Chas and his team collected my 1942 Ariel from sunny Tuscany, where it had spent the last 74 years. Really helpful, great to deal with, and they handled the cash as well. The bike arrived this morning, well strapped down in the van in perfect condition.

It's a service run for enthusiast bikers by enthusiastic bikers; the driver was a man who clearly enjoyed himself, driving all over Europe chatting to bikers. Who wouldn't!

Here's the W/NG still in the van; I had hoped the driver would leave that lovely Mk1 Le Mans in my garage as well, but that will have to wait for another day. They will be getting my business next time.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Oil Pressure

So how is the oil pressure situation now we are into the summer riding season? Amelia's engine is loosening up nicely but I am nervous every time I dip my head to look at the pressure gauge between my knees. This summer, we are in the low-mid twenties (degrees C) and the gauge is still showing the 10 psi at idle, 25 psi at 40-50 mph that Mark Walsh described in this blog post:

My initial runs were done on a cheap 20W/50, followed by Morris SAE 50. Nothing wrong with this oil, but with a new build engine it was difficult to start and after a few hundred miles the gauge was dropping to near zero at idle. I then discovered Penrite Shelsley Heavy, which is 40W/70 and is designed for older engines with some wear - you all know that my big ends have not been reground and are near the factory wear limit; I did this because they were just about within tolerance and I did not want to risk ruining my cranks with a poor grind.

With this oil, it's quite difficult to turn the engine over in the winter (down to zero Celsius), but there is a Shelsley Medium (25W/70) which I might try; the upside is that the pressure is always above 10 psi, and sees 25-30 at higher speeds. The engine is loosening off now and the bike is starting to really fly! I'm hoping that the loosening off will see some reduction in temperature which in turn will increase the oil pressure a little.

The real truth though is that I am going to have to bite the bullet and get the big ends reground at some point.

Watch this space!

Tank Strip

Here's a nice little eBay find - an original tank strip for the Huntmaster. This is an original Ariel part, rechromed -its been polished very thin, but it was a good price and its usable, unlike the one I have!

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Old Warrior joins the stable

Well, I've been looking for a girder forked single for a while and finally the right one at the right price has appeared. Advertised on Car & Classic as a 1948 Red Hunter, and located in Castiglion Fiorentino, a small town in Tuscany we have this rather splendid Ariel owned by Massimo Bruni.

Massimo collects Italian classic bikes of the 50's & 60's. Last year, visiting Terni in central Italy (Umbria region) to see two old Gilera motorcycles he bought this 350 cc Ariel single. Massimo wanted to sell it to purchase a Parilla 175, and consequently his friend Nicola IlGordo was enlisted to help sell it on Car & Classic.

It was for sale at a good price, and after many, many emails and exchanges of pictures between myself & Nicola, I decided to buy my first Ariel single.

Thanks to Massimo & Nicola I was able to see the Italian registration papers for the Ariel and this picture, from 1953, shows the previous owner (the only one before Massimo) with his son on the Ariel. The previous owner died two years ago (in 2014) and his son decided to sell it.

So what have we bought?

The previous owner was clearly not the first owner of the bike because, as keen Arielisti will have spotted, this is a fine, civilianised example of Ariel's war horse, the W/NG. A few key features: It has the field stand lug, the kickstart clip, the two tool boxes and the downward bend in the frame tubes that distinguish the military bike from the civilian NG; moreover the engine, frame and gearbox numbers all point to W/NG - we will have to wait and see what gear ratios it has. Other details include the unplated exhaust and the military gear lever.

Here it is emerging from the garage. Nicola's father is attempting to get it running again:

Out in the Tuscan sunshine, looking like a straight, well cared for and rather original W/NG, dressed up to look like an Italian bike from the 1950's.

So is there much wrong?

That's an Indian reproduction headlamp. It's very shiny, and the switch doesn't have the 'tail only' position that a military bike should have, and it may be the 7" version rather than the flat glass DU42 6 1/2" version in use during the war (it is actually an Indian copy of the MU42 domed glass 6 1/2" version, and quite a good copy too); the S443M military speedo is also missing - hardly surprising as it's miles would have been rather useless measuring Italian kilometres; or maybe it was broken:

Here's a view of the engine. A few observations:
  • Float bowl is on the wrong side of the correct Amal 275 carburetter
  • Oil pipe appears to have a gauge connection. Correct to the parts list, but why?
  • no fuel pipe - should be a solid copper pipe
  • Looks very clean. Maybe there is no oil in it!
  • Altette horn, angled horn bracket and the bracket spanning the engine plates are missing
Otherwise it looks good!

More Indian parts: the fuel cap and possibly the tank as well. Welded lugs for the fuel cap, no chain hole to retain the cap point to an Indian repro tank, but the picture is a little fuzzy. The square arch in the tank to clear the frame top member is different to my three SQ4 tanks, but (thanks to Steven Carter on the AOMCC forum) it appears that W/NG tanks are made like this. We will have to see when it arrives. Cap is very different from the Ariel design though.

 Domed cap says repro as well:

This is the SQ4 tank cap, showing what they are supposed to look like:

More general views. Non-standard knee rubbers - 1940 bikes have standard Ariel knee rubber arrangements, 1944 bikes have none. What is this?

Original rear mudguard and unusual rack with pillion seat lugs:

Original oil tank and gearbox; kickstart lever is missing but the clip is still in place. Footrests look home made:

Exhaust pipe bend looks a little strange; probably a replacement - this bike is only 74 years old in a few months:

Original seat, mudguard stays & saddle; odd looking rack & rear number plate; dummy star washer missing from forks on this side; the lower chain guard is missing (but I happen to have one in stock):

Original Ariel forks, with correct length side plates & steering damper. Later handlebar clamps, presumably still for 1" bars so should have packing pieces:

Italian style handlebars and controls - white grips, welded levers; not at all Ariel, but look like they have been there for a while?

Original field stand! Original cable clips! Look at the blue pinstripe on the silver wheels. Why was it painted like this?

 Original toolboxes with odd fasteners keeping them closed. Is there anything inside I wonder?

Original front mudguard; speedo drive still there:


The numbers all add up to a late 1942 W/NG. The details are:
  • Frame: XG 31708 
  • Engine: BH 20968 
  • Gearbox: XICPBL96343 
This points to contract number C12,450; the WD number could have been C4851938 or thereabouts; there were 2000 bikes built to this contract, plus 100 engines, 100 frames and 100 gearboxes. The contract was placed with Ariel on the 24th January 1942 and the machines were delivered between 11th August and 29th October the same year.

The bike is still carrying it's Italian registration number, TR3188, and the Automobile Club d'Italia page from the registration book shows the previous owners name, Marco Gatti, dated August 1950:

The registration book, with two renewals, is dated July 1960 and shows the bike sold by the ARAR, of which more later. Clearly the same bike - same registration, frame number etc.,  and even the tyre sizes are correct:

Secondly, I have the registration from the Automobile Club d'Italia licensing the bike to Sr. Gatti, from August 1950.

So why is it painted like that?

There are a few features which make me curious about this bike:
  • the red paint on the frame has been professionally done
  • the wheels have silver paint with blue lining; both match
  • the silencer has an odd, restrictive cap
  • the carrier looks like it was professionally fitted, but is not the carrier normally found on a W/NG
Now, this is either an enthusiastic owner from the past with a tired W/NG and a picture of a Red Hunter, or there is more to it. I will ask the Italian AOMCC and see where we go from there.
But how do I leave it? If it something special I will leave it; I rather like the idea of a demilitarized military bike, but it would look the part for '40's weekend in green...

So what's next?

First thing is to get it checked out by the Machine Registrar and AOMCC Archivist, and then we can start the registration process; then we need to sort out some parts & do some work:
  1. A kick start from AOMCC Singles Spares
  2. A petrol pipe, flexible from stock initially, then a copper one
  3. Buy a horn bracket and fit the spare horn
  4. Fit the chain guard I have in stock
  5. Fit the spare VRLA battery I have in stock
  6. Have a look at the footrests and see what needs doing
  7. Find a bicycle speedo until a chronometric turns up, then buy a cable from Johnson Cables
  8. Have a look at the tyres and see what I want to replace them with
  9. Get a dummy star washers for the LHS damper
  10. Sort out the tool box knobs
  11. Sort out the regulator shield, and get one for the SQ4
  12. Think about the handlebars and levers
  13. Think about a pillion seat
Of course, some of these things are essential, and some will not get done for years. The main thing is to get it going, and spend some time blatting about Norfolk. The fun will begin when it arrives next week!