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

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.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Free the Nipple

We have to make a new set of cables for the W/NG's new handlebars, using the techniques shown in my Cable Making post here. Unfortunately, the lovely Czech levers I have appear to be a little under size for the clutch and brake cable nipples so we are going to need some non-standard nipples.

This presents yet another mini-lathe opportunity. Starting with a bit of brass (10 mm OD) we turn a suitable length to provide two nipples to provide an easy running fit in the lever - about 8.8 mm.


This done, we need to drill the holes. The inner cable diameter (for the clutch in this case) is about 2 mm, so we'll need a through hole for that and a shallow hole, maybe 5 mm, for the birds nest and solder bucket. We'll start with a centre drill, with the bare nipple in a tailpost V block:


The centre drill is followed by a through hole drilled 2 mm, and this is followed by a 5 mm hole to a depth of 5 mm for the 'birds nest' that we will form when we fit the cable.




Here's the bar after drilling for the first nipple:


The next job is to part off to the desired length, in this case 10 mm. The finish leaves alot to be desired - I was running the lathe too slow for brass.


Deburring next; notably the cable hole on the reverse of this picture. I use a centre drill to open that hole out a little to catch the open, unsoldered wire ends on the inner cable.

So that's it. I made three out of the bit of bar I had turned to size, to avoid wasting it. One for the front brake, one for the clutch and one for the box of nipples & ferrules. I wonder if I can make ferrules...


Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Haven't you done enough shaking down?

So another day, another road test. After the weekend, where I checked out the B5HS plugs (pale grey centres, all the same - as expected) and fixed a very dodgy crimp in the distributor circuit and filling the tank, I took an early evening bimble along the lovely A149 North Norfolk coast road, into the setting sun. As usual, the SQ4 was fine for the first few miles, though I thought a little more reluctant to rev from a closed throttle than normal. We stopped for a break and a picture at Blakeney:





There's a narrow lane down to the beach here, maybe 300 yards down a hill which you do at 20 mph or less - idling, essentially. At the T junction at the bottom, there was a reluctance to rev and I coaxed the bike to a parking place where I enriched the idle mixture half a turn thinking that it had been reluctant to come off the idle jet since leaving the house.

A few more miles, and once out on the open road again she was flying. A little stumble now and then but generally great, until I got to a little village called West Runton, which has a mile or so of descent down a narrow lane into the village centre - again, 20 mph max, throttle closed, followed by a short hop over a railway bridge. By the time I was at the bottom, opening the throttle would kill the engine and there was no way I was getting over that bridge until the engine had cleared its throat. Once on the open road - more or less OK again. I'm convinced it gets very rich on the overrun, or descending hills on closed throttle.

So, back in the shop I am thinking that I have the idle mixture screw set way too rich - but it's only two turns out. My second thought is that there is an internal leak - possible in the bi-starter, or possibly the bi-starter is not closing fully.

We'll have to pull the carburetter off again. I found a useful site here, which takes a while to load but has some great pictures of a 26 AHD strip, refurbish and rebuild.