Sunday, 31 March 2019

Square Four - Improving the mixture

 I learned from the folk on the AOMCC forum that the mixture can be adjusted by changing the float level, as in other carburetters. I hadn't thought of this approach with the Solex because the float acts directly on the valve and there is no arm to bend, for example.

However, the collective consciousness revealed that the float valves could befitted with several washers if necessary, to lower the valve and hence the fuel level, leaning out the mixture. Like many others, I had replaced the fuel valve fibre washer when I rebuilt the carb, with a single washer of about 1 mm thickness, but apparently there can be up to 3 mm of thickness there.

Since my bike was using quite a lot of fuel and, judging by the state of the silencers was clearly running rich, I added a second washer. 

A plug chop revealed that the change had been a success. Previously, I had been running NGK B5HS plugs as my B6HS, equivalent to standard fitment, had been sooty. After the washer was added, I was able to revert to the B6HS and they were a much better colour.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Speedo Gearbox - W/NG

Since I've had my W/NG, I've been suspicious of the fact that it is (or was) little faster than my Bantam, struggling to reach 50 mph without a wind behind it.

A W/NG with the wind behind it
So, I was interested in a thread on the AOMCC forum on the subject, in which fellow W/NG rider Alan Moore wrote:

"Calculating the required ratio to give 1600 revolutions per mile traveled by the front tyre (with the 43T/14T hub gears) results in a required gearbox ratio of 8:12 (it reduces the input turns by that ratio). So the input pinion has 8 teeth and the output pinion 12. So my 8:14 ratio is a little bit out and gives 1400 revs per mile which means the speedo would under read by about 12%"

I'd been out for a 56 mile run (Google maps) and recorded only 49.6 on the odometer. Watching the town speed warnings (the ones that flash your speed up) it appeared that the speedo under reads by about 12%, so I was immediately suspicious that my speedo gearbox gearing was wrong too. The fact that both speed and distance readings were out proved that this was not a speedo head calibration problem - which would have been a surprise, as the speedo head was shown to be very accurate when it was rebuilt.

It took me a long while (and quite a lot of money) to find a speedo gearbox with the right ratio. I'm hoping to be able to recoup the cost by selling the old one.

So onto fitting it. I'm always happy at the way these old bikes facilitate maintenance - it's so easy to pull the front wheel out with the bike on the front stand. Here's the speedo gearbox:

And here's the small pinion inside the brake plate. You have to remove the split pin and the pinion to get the gearbox off:

There's a bit of debris here, and some damage on the small pinion. I'm not sure the two internal pinions are mating properly.

Once you have undone the large locknut, you can unscrew the speedo gearbox. You'll see this split pin underneath the driven gear - remove the split pin and you can tap out the gear using a drift. It will drive out the cap:

The cap with the grease nipple is staked in, but will come out if you gently tap the driving pinion. You can now inspect all the components, clean and grease them before reassembly using a new split pin.

By the way, this is a different gearbox. Not my damage!

Friday, 22 March 2019

Fuel Tap Plungers

If you find yourself short of plungers, or the shaft of your adjustable plunger is damaged, they are quite easily made if you have access to a lathe.

The brass centre of the adjustable plungers, which is often short from having the slotted end broken, can be made from a bit of 3/8" round bar. Chuck this in the lathe and turn a suitable length to 5/32" - the best way to do this is to turn an 1/8" or so to exactly the right diameter, then use this short length as a guide to turn the rest in one pass. With a sharp tool this shouldn't be too much of a problem and it avoids the tiny bar bending away from the tool, which will result in the outside diameter being over size.

Chamfer the end and cut the thread - it's 5/32" BSW. Make sure you use a tailstock die holder or back the die holder up with the tailstock to keep it square - you don't want that thread wandering off.

Give it a polish and part it off:

Assemble it into the plunger and you are done:

The shaft I have made here is a bit over-length compared to the old one - maybe I will adjust it a tad. Notice the diamond knurl. I don't have the cutters for that - straight and diagonal knurls yes, but not the 'inverted' diamond knurl. Rather nice, and easier on the hands...

Post war plungers, as I mentioned in my other post on the subject, are non-adjustable unlike their prewar forefathers, and because of this I think it makes sense to update them with an O-ring seal.

The hexagon reserve plungers are made from 0.600" 303 stainless steel hexagon bar. You'll need a decent length for chucking and for the milling operation. Chuck the bar with a couple of diameters showing beyond the jaws, to give you enough space to part off when you are done:

Turn the shank to the required diameter - a little over 5/16". This needs to be a loosish clearance fit in the tap body you just reamed.

Use a thin parting tool to form the O ring grooves. Space them so that they are at either end of the equivalent length of cork:

For those, like me, without a mill you can use the toolpost or a milling attachment to mill a 3/32" slot, about 1/16" deep in the tap shank. Since the loads involved in this operation are tiny, I didn't bother to set the lathe up for milling. I cut the slot at about 1500 rpm in two passes, with a 3/32" slot drill.

Once you have completed the milling, test the plunger in the body and make sure the plunger slides freely with the retaining screw in place. Next, put the bar back in the chuck and polish up the shank; then, before you part off, turn the shallow chamfer on the inside of the head. You can then part off.

Turn the plunger in the chuck, and skim the outside face of the head, cutting the shallow chamfer in the same setting. Polish the head and you are done.

And watch out - the reason that slot looks slightly ragged is because I broke a cutter in it. Go easy.

Next thing - you will want to smooth the edge of the ports in the tap. look at this:

See the sharp edges? Remove that with a burr in the Dremel, or a tiny grinding tool. If you leave it, the O ring will be damaged. Look:

That nick will cause a leak. You are not really supposed to use O rings in dynamic applications like this.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you found it useful.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Spend a night in the box...

Paul Newman
Updated: First published May 2013

No man shall have worn mainshaft bearings. Any man found with worn mainshaft bearings spends a night in the box!

No man shall be missing his kickstart stop. Any man found missing his kickstart stop spends a night in the box!

No man shall forget his lubricant. Any man found forgetting his lubricant spends a night in the box!

One of my favourite films, Cool Hand Luke.

Talking of spending a night in the box, the engine is going to be ready next week and I need to have the gearbox out & cleaned because if I know myself at all I'm not going to want to tear Amelia apart anytime soon, when the bottom end is back in.

So, I've been looking at Mr. Waller's book and I need to record what I'm doing with the gearbox. There doesn't appear to be a manual for the BA, so perhaps we can write one.

Many machines used Burman gearboxes, going back to pre-war years including Ariel, AJS & Matchless, Panther & Vincent. Many of these manufacturers used the GB gearbox with the enclosed clutch arm, and there is some material out there on these boxes. This text is predominantly about the earlier BA box fitted to my Square Four, which shares much of it's internals with the GB, and indeed the GB was derived from it.The gearbox which is the subject of this article is a 1951 BA from a Mk1 Ariel Square Four.

There's an excellent video, by Alan Moore of the AOMCC, showing how the gearbox works:

Getting Access - Removing the Gearbox

Remove the clutch cable by loosening the adjuster and disconnecting the cable nipple from the clutch operating arm on the gearbox outer cover. If you have the rubber boot fitted over the arm, draw this back over the arm to expose the nipple.

Just imagine how that would have been handled in a Carry-On film. You can almost hear Sid laugh. 

Speedo Cable Screw - don't lose it!
The speedo cable is removed from the end of the gearbox by removing the screw on the outer casing beneath the cable. Put it back in once the cable is removed so you don't lose it.

Loosen the bolts securing the kick start lever and the gear lever. I leave the levers in place since it gives you something to hold when you remove the gearbox.

Remove the clutch cover, slacken and remove the spring screws and remove the plates. You now have access to the clutch centre tab washer which you can knock back, followed by the nut and the clutch centre. Next, drain the primary case and take out all the screws. Split the primary chain and put it in a bag to keep it clean. Now you can knock back the tab washer (in six places) securing the clutch basket screws. Remove the screws. When you lift the clutch basket away, arrange a plastic ping meal container underneath to catch the needle rollers within the centre bearing. Hopefully they won't all fall out. There are 12 of them.

On a Square Four, take off the oil tank and battery carrier to give greater accessibility to the top and bottom clamping and swivel bolts. On my W/NG you can get to the top bolts without removing the oil tank, but it's still easier if the tank is not there.

Lastly, remove the two rear chain guards and the rear half of the primary case. You can now see, and hopefully you will clean the gearbox.

Complete, vice mounted Burman BA
The gearbox is now ready to be removed from the frame. Loosen all rear engine plate bolts and the gearbox adjuster and allow the plates sufficient slackness to enable the gearbox to be lifted out towards the offside. Have a rest. I know your pride & joy looks like a basket case again doesn't it!

Clamp the gearbox in a vice by way of the bottom swivel lug and remove the nuts securing the outer end-cover, which can then be pulled away complete with the kickstarter and foot-change mechanism. This is what you will see:

CP Gearbox Kickstart & Selector Mechanism

We'll look at these bits later, or you can skip to the bottom of the text and look at them now, which is what I did!

An exploded gearbox. I hope his book is out of copyright.
The gearbox is of course upside down...

Dismantling the Gearbox Internal Mechanism

The kickstart pinion ratchet & pinion
This  operation can begin by unscrewing the hexagon nut on the end of the mainshaft and taking off the kick-starter driving ratchet, ratchet pinion, distance sleeve and short coil spring.

These parts require checking for wear, together with the kick-starter quadrant which was removed with the outer end-cover. You need to make sure that the teeth on the ratchet nut (item 41) and the driving ratchet (item 42) are nice and sharp, and not worn. You'll see them in a picture somewhere hereabouts, looking nicely unworn.

The mainshaft nut is a bit mangled though, looks like it has been in a scrap with Mr. Chisel & Mr. Hammer.
The, um, Key to Fig 33. Sorry Mr. Waller.

If the first few teeth of the quadrant are "burred," these should be ground down to give a clean engaging action with the ratchet, but a new part is, of course, advisable. Note that the first 'tooth' is typically ground off, which enables engagement with the pinion in the first few degrees of movement.

Kickstart quadrant. Perfect condition.
Remove the inner half gear-cover from the main casing, taking note of the twelve hardened rollers which form the bearing for the gearbox camshaft. Those of you with W/NGs will note that this roller-race has been replaced with a plain bush. Next remove the slotted screwed plug at the base of the main casing and pull out the pawl spring.

Pull out the mainshaft from the clutch side and then remove the layshaft with gears and operating forks as a complete assembly. This is not difficult, but to make it easier you can remove the mainshaft & layshaft third gears before you take the whole cluster out (items 15 and 45 in the exploded view). You can put them back separately too. Saves you dropping them on the floor and spending the rest of the evening in tears.

Inspecting Internals for Wear

The pinions and operating forks should be carefully examined, as should the layshaft and mainshaft. Check for wear on the fork operating faces and renew if at all grooved. Note the order of assembly on the camshaft and that the longer of the two forks is for operating the sliding gear clutch on the layshaft. Remove the split pins retaining the dowel in each fork and remove the dowel. Inspect the dowel for wear, which will appear as flats worn on the sides. Replace the dowel using new split pins, cutting them short & bending the legs outward. Grease the pins and the slots before you reassemble the camshaft.

Forks. Beautiful. Clean. Square. Lucky boy.
Burman gear pinions are not case-hardened, but being made from oil-toughened nickel-chrome steel, are hard enough to give strength and wearing quality without the risk of frequent fracture, which is more relative to gears which have been case-hardened and treated. Gear pinions very seldom call for replacement, unless through some reason a fractured tooth has occurred.

Of course, we are looking at gears that may have been in service for many more years than perhaps Mr. Waller might have imagined, so we might look more closely at our teeth. Always pays to take care of your teeth.

So what are we looking for? ISO 10825 lists a number of failure modes for gear teeth:
  • surface disturbances such as wear, corrosion or overheating
  • scuffing, which is the transfer of material from one surface to another, under load
  • permanent deformation - bending, rippling, indentation
  • surface fatigue, such as pitting, spalling or flaking
  • fissures & cracks
  • tooth breakage
Fortunately, examination of the gears revealed no damage and very little wear. Machining marks were evident in some areas

George had poor teeth...
If the gearbox has been long in service it is advisable to check both the layshaft and mainshaft spindles between lathe centres and using a clock-dial gauge.

If either shaft shows bending to have taken place and this to exceed 0.005 in., a renewal is advised. Test the shafts in their respective bearings or bushes and note that a clearance wear of 0.005 in. - 0.007 in. is permissible before renewal. The driving gear and sprocket, having been left in position in the gearbox shell, should be tested for clearance, both internally and externally, and if the centre bushes show a clearance exceeding 0.006 in. - 0.007 in. when tested with the mainshaft inserted, fit new ones.

Driving-Gear Bushes

Two are fitted with a centre space for grease deposit between the two and are a tight press fit and require reaming after fitting to give a shaft clearance of at least 0.0015 in - 0.002 in.
The contents of my box

To remove the driving gear from the casing the sprocket large locknut must be unscrewed. Some models have a special lock-washer securing the nut, whilst others incorporate the system of punching the inner edge of the nut into one or more of the splines of the driving-gear shank. Knock out, pry out or drill out the elements of the lock washer that are retaining the nut, and proceed with removing the sprocket.

To remove the sprocket, Mr. Waller says:

To hold the gear and sprocket from turning, a very useful tool can be made up and used as follows. Obtain a scrap mainshaft and grind two flats on the thick end which carries the clutch race . Fix this shaft in the vice by gripping the flats. Take the mainshaft sliding gear and place on the splined shaft with the large pinion uppermost. Next invert the gearbox case over the shaft and engage the sliding-gear pinion with the driving gear.

That method is all well & good when there are a plentiful supply of old mainshafts knocking around, but I don't think today I or anyone else will be destroying precious spares in this cavalier fashion. My alternative starts with removing the mainshaft, and inverting the whole box so that the sprocket nut can be gripped in the jaws of your vice. Then, take a large Stilson wrench/Monkey wrench/pipe wrench, and open it up as wide as you can. Use the Stilson to grip opposing teeth on opposite sides of the sprocket and turn the whole sprocket, which the vice grips the nut. You might need a tube or something to increase leverage - it will be tight. It's a normal RH thread, so when it won't come undone don't think you are tightening it!

Shh don't tell anyone, but this is a Bantam clutch puller!
Undo it using this method until it is free to turn, but don't forget that the box is supported on that nut. As soon as the nut is undone the box will fall on the floor if you don't watch it! Take it out of the vice and finish removing the nut with the box safe on the bench. The driving gear can pushed into the case for removal, when you strip the internals out.

The sprocket can be stiff too. A puller will fix that easily.

Gearbox Sleeve Gear Oil Seal

Seals in situ
During the 1948 season, Burman introduced a self-adjusting oil-seal to be fitted next to the main driving-gear ball bearing. The idea was to convert the gearbox to "all oil" lubrication from the grease or grease/oil mix used previously; although the seal was effective in preventing leakage at the bearing end of the box, there was considerable "weepage" elsewhere.

With a seal fitted it is advisable to use a fifty-fifty mixture of oil and grease as a lubricant and "top up"  with a grease gun filled with such a mixture.

The oil seal can be obtained and incorporated on any Burman four-speed gearbox, Type "BA" and Type "CP ". The seal fits with a thin steel gland washer on either side, immediately behind but after fitting the driving-gear bearing (see Part No. 25, Fig. 33). The seal components are shown in picture nearby.

Check the Main Ball Bearing and Bushes

The driving-gear ball bearing is easily pressed out of the housing after removal of the circlip and dust-cover, and the oil seal if it is fitted.

Wash out the bearing and check inner and outer races for pitting and wear. While you are at it, wash out the mainshaft ball bearing from the kickstart end and inspect that too

If bearing shows any signs of wear and "shake" renewal is advised. A worn bearing will cause gears jumping out as well as undue noise. Mine were both loose & showed a fair bit of play once clean - unwashed, they were just gritty & hard to move.

The layshaft spindle bush and camshaft bush fitted into the gearbox case should be examined. These bushes have a flanged-face fitting and are pressed into position.

BA Gearbox Sleeve Gear Seal Components
All the tolerances, plus the actual dimensions of the bushes and shafts from my box are on the Engine & Gearbox Tolerances page within this blog. You'll notice that my bushes are all on the upper end of acceptable wear, but considering that this machine will doubtless be used for leisure pursuits we will not replace the bushes this time.

If the camshaft bush flange is worn the shaft can take up a floating action due to excessive end-play, and as the operating forks are located on the shaft this float will readily cause the forks to over-travel with the sliding gears and disengage them whilst under load. A temporary repair can be effected by placing a hardened shim or washer on the end of the camshaft to compensate for the worn flange, taking care to leave at least 0.001 in. - 0.002 in. end-play.

The coil springs and their housing
After ensuring that all gear pinions and shafts are in good condition for further service, preparation should be made for reassembling the main gearbox. We will however review & inspect the gearchange & kickstart mechanisms first.

The Gearchange Mechanism

The foot gear-change mechanism is of the positive type and allows only one gear at a time to be engaged by one movement only of the pedal either way. Apart from accidental damage, the only parts requiring replacement due to wear and tear over a long period are the two main coil springs and the two pawl coil springs positioned in the alloy spring-box, and the ratchet and quadrant pawl.
Pawl and his teeth. Actually very good
The ratchet and pawl should be closely examined for any sign of wear at the engaging points and, although a temporary repair can be made by "stoning" up, these parts should be replaced if they appear to be unduly worn.

Check the tightness of the three rivets securing the ratchet and quadrant to the sector. Any slackness of this assembly will cause trouble in gear engagement and, resultant jumping out of mesh will occur. You'll see the three rivets in the adjacent picture - two round rivet heads on the arc with the gear teeth - the third is just visible as a circular mark on the pawl ratchet. This rivet is countersunk this side.

Note that in the same shot you can see the timing mark on the arc with the gear teeth - the small punched 'O'.

Three rivets & a ratchet

The Kick-starter

Hopefully you remembered to inspect the kickstarter quadrant when you took it out - if not, clean it and do it now. When you have it clean, pay close attention to the splines for the kickstart lever. If these look worn (i.e. they are not distinct sharp splines with parallel sides) go and find a new shaft. The shaft can be pressed out of the quadrant if need be.

The quadrant and ratchet having been examined or replaced, attention should be given to the kick-starter lever return spring. Ensure that the spring is strong enough to return the lever and pedal to the vertical position after being depressed. A weak spring can have its tension increased by rewinding a further one or two turns, or you could seek out a new one, or, if you fancy playing with your Rothenberger Superfire 2 you could reharden & temper the old one. No guarantees though, this is tricky work!

Kickstart Quadrant Stop (top left)
When refitting, do not wind the spring up solid, but only sufficient to throw the lever and pedal sharply to the normal vertical position. The inner end of the spring fits into one of the slots on the kick-starter shaft immediately behind the quadrant, and the outer end to a peg provided in the gearbox cover. The correct way for fitting the spring is for it to be located on the shaft with the coils running clockwise from the centre. If fitted the reverse way, the pedal will be thrown to the lowest position instead of to the top of the stroke.

The gearbox is fitted with a stop for the kickstart quadrant, which is akin to a Metalastik bush (a steel ring with a rubber centre) fitted over a peg, which is in turn a press fit in the middle casing. AOMCC wisdom suggests that it's installation restricts the kickstart movement some 20-30 degrees.

Reassembling Gearbox

Assemble the cluster on the bench
This is really a reversal of the dismantling operation, said Mr Haynes. Before you start however, prepare all the parts. Make sure everything, including your bench, is really clean. Clean off all that nasty red hermetite the previous bodger smeared everywhere. Clean the oxide off the cases with a wire brush, make it nice and shiny with a dose of elbow grease and save yourself a trip to the blaster. Make any repairs you need to make to the alloy parts of the case - repair that broken clutch cable lug, replace the missing kick start stop. 

New kickstart stop peg
Actually I cheated a bit here. I have never tried aluminium welding  (though there is an excellent site at to help you), so to deal with the broken clutch cable lug I bought a new middle casing - but this one had no kickstart stop. You might remember it from this post. Now, normally these are a press fit in the middle case, but mine was missing and the hole mis-shapen. The best option I had was to recut the hole with a 1/2" tap, and the only one I had was 20TPI. I had intended to make a new stop peg from a 1/2" BSC bolt, but since I couldn't find one I had to make a new one from 1/2" round bar, 1 1/2" long, and threaded 1/2" BSC for 1" of its length. I tapped the hole on the case, and cut a slot for a screwdriver in the threaded end of the stop to wind it in. I will secure it with Loctite when I have assembled the rest of the box.

Kickstart stop peg in place
Then replace any bushes that are too tired and ream them to size, not forgetting the tiny bush for the clutch arm. These like most bushes are a press fit in the clutch arm lug on the outer case. Remove them by pushing them out wit the new bush. with the aid of a small bolt (M5 fits neatly) drawing the old bush into a small socket. Clean out the shavings. Replace any missing Welch plugs from the drive sprocket end of the case. These are really easy to make from sheet steel, formed hot with a ball pein hammer in an old socket of a suitable size and deserve a post of their own, since I am running out of space for pictures here!

Lastly, fit the new ball bearings. This is made a lot easier if you leave the bearings in the freezer while you have your dinner. Make sure the seats for the bearings are spotless - you don't want any grit or swarf preventing the bearing from going into the proper position, otherwise they will not be supported properly and you won't get the oil seals in - there is not much space in the large bearing housing for the bearing, seal and the spacer discs. Heat each case with the trusty hot air gun and drop the cold bearings in, seating them with a suitable drift - don't touch the balls or the inner race with your drift, punch or hammer! A cold bearing in a hot case won't need much force, if any. Put a few drops of a bearing retainer (I use Loctite 603) around the outer race.

Now we can begin assembling the box.

Note the correct order of the driving-gear ball bearing, retaining rings, felt washer, etc. and assemble those parts. Grease the bearing as it goes in, and the oil seal if you have one and fit the spacer into it. Insert driving gear in the new bearing, fit the sprocket, the lock washer and do up the nut. You can tighten it but don't bend the lockwasher yet, until we are sure it doesn't need to come off again. I like to leave the nut loose until the box is fully assembled & tested, since it is a pain to tighten. You don't want to do it twice.

Knackered clutch arm bush
Make up the mainshaft gears, layshaft assembly, camshaft and operating forks into a complete sub-assembly, and insert this into the gearbox case, locating the layshaft and camshaft spindles in their respective bushings. It is easier if the camshaft pawl is off whilst replacing the cluster. Insert the mainshaft from the driving-side and pass it through the mainshaft sliding gear. Wiggle it a bit to get it through the splines.

Wiggle the cluster into the case
Fit  the remaining third mainshaft gear on to the shaft end. Check the proper position of the camshaft pawl and refit it, followed by the pawl spring and plug. Leave the plug a bit loose until you have the end cover on - it makes it easier to test for each gear when you are rotating the camshaft by hand.

Fill the roller groove at the end of the camshaft with grease, and place the twelve camshaft hardened rollers (where fitted) in the groove, sticking them in the grease, and fit the gearbox inner cover. 

Use Wellseal on the cover - there is no gasket. Nip up the 1/4" BSW nuts securely. Test mainshaft for end-play which should be 1/64 in. - 1/32 in. If end-play is excessive, this can be reduced by fitting a slightly longer ratchet pinion steel bush on which the kick-starter pinion and small coil spring fit. Another method for reducing end-play is to countersink the inner face of the shaft nut to allow it to project over the shoulder on the shaft end and so push the ratchet further along the shaft.

Refit kick-starter ratchet assembly and tighten mainshaft and nut. Turn the mainshaft to make certain it is free - I have nipped the kickstart pawl spring behind it's sleeve, which isn't obvious and puts a side load on both rolling bearings.

Timing Must be Checked

Add the 3rd gear pinions
Before you go any further, make sure you can select all the gears. Turn the camshaft using the quadrant - it can be a little stiff, but turn the mainshaft to help it along. You don't want to finish assembling the box only to find something amiss. Tighten the pawl spring plug when you are done. Dave Pitt from the AOMCC says:

"Going anticlockwise the 0 on the cam gear is at about 2 o'clock in 4th, 11 o'clock in 3rd, 8 o'clock in 2nd, between 5 & 6 in detented neutral, and about 4 o'clock in 1st. You can find an undetented neutral between 2nd and 3rd, and 3rd and 4th. The 0's align in undetented neutral between 2nd and 3rd."

Note that when finally fitting the foot-change assembly the quadrant and small gear pinion on the camshaft must be correctly "timed" or meshed, otherwise incorrect positioning of gears will result. The quadrant and pinion are marked with distinctive timing dots (the stamped 'O's) and these must be intermeshed when the gears are in the neutral position before finally bolting up the outer gearbox end cover. As Dave Pitt says, note that the 'neutral' referred to here is a false neutral, not detented by the pawl, between 2nd & 3rd, and is not the true neutral. The true neutral is a detented position on the camshaft between 1st & 2nd.

CP Gearbox with stamped 'O's' aligned

Gear Indicator
Refit the end cover - use Wellseal again on the joint, there is no gasket. Whilst the gearbox is still in the vice, make sure you can get all the gears. and make sure the kickstart returns the lever smartly to the top of its stroke.

You can now tighten the sprocket nut - fit an old clutch centre, with a bar through the  studs and you will be able to tighten the sprocket nut sufficiently. When you have finished heaving this about, you can refit the two gear indicator pointers and the clutch lever and it's adjusters.

A gearbox in a frame
Install the complete gearbox back in the frame. Fit the gear lever, kick start lever, and the clutch cable. Then check the engine plate nuts once more and fill the gearbox with grease/oil mix, enjoying the unprecedented access to the filler cap. The end cover as well as, of course, the main gearbox case should be nearly filled with any of the makers' recommended brands of grease mixed 50/50 with oil, or a self-leveling grease. Quantity required is about 600 ml. Do it up and re-fit the oil tank if you removed it. 

Fit the speedo cable, noting that it goes right down in the hole and that the screw slides into the annular groove in the cable end. If you don't get it in far enough, the cable inner appears mysteriously too short, but will intermittently drive the speedo...

Now you get to go around the other side and put the clutch back together!

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Fuel Tap Leaks

Updated from 2017

Following on from the replacement fuel filter I made here, I wanted to show you how I have renovated the double plunger taps fitted to my Ariels.

The plungers fitted to these taps are a simple design with a few variations - prewar, the plungers are adjustable and of about 3/4" diameter; post war, they reduce to about 5/8" and lose their adjustability. There is the plated knob, which may be round and knurled or hexagonal; the knob has a short shaft which has a milled groove, aligning with a peg in the tap body (to stop it coming out), and this groove is usually straight, but may be milled with a dog leg such that you can turn the knob to avoid inadvertently shutting off the tap. Fitted inside the knob is a brass inner shaft, of about 5/32" diameter for most of its length which is provided with a short section of larger diameter, to fit inside the tap body and to carry the cork.

Lastly there is the cork - a cylinder shape fitting tightly inside the tap body and around the inner shaft.

Here's a selection. These are all post war (so about 5/8" diameter; the hex is 0.600" across flats), and came to me from John Mitchell of the AOMCC.

You'll notice how some of these plungers have a straight slot for the retaining screw, and some have a slot with a 90 degree bend. These are the 'turn to lock' type, which are later than the ones with the straight slot:

Now, these taps are pretty reliable if you know what you are doing when you set them up. The corks wear, and they dry out leading to leakage but if you keep them in good condition they work well. If you have a leaky tap, first consider what you have been doing with the bike. If for example you drained the tank over winter, or the bike has been out of service for a while, or you just bought the tap off eBay try letting the plunger soak in a puddle of petrol for a while, or immerse it in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes to rejuvenate the cork. This approach has restored many taps to working order.

If you have to replace the corks, you need to remove the inner shaft using a punch - a 3 mm or 1/8" punch will be fine. Locate the mushroomed end of the inner shaft and place the knob, shaft down, in the jaws of a vice.

Tap the mushroomed end of the inner shaft with your punch and drive it out

You should have the plunger in two pieces:

Replace the cork. Check that the new cork has a hole that is on-centre all the way through, and that the ends are square - a lot of them are poor quality. Check that it is solid and does not have any dark grooves in the cork that are going to cause leaks.

Check also that it is the right length. The short length of MIG wire in the picture below has two bends in it - one to indicate the open end of the tap and one to indicate the location of the fuel port drilled through the tap - the port that the cork will shut off. You can see that the short cork fitted to the tap has no hope of covering up the holes, but the longer new cork will cover the holes nicely.

Reassembly is simple - fit the new cork over the inner shaft and press the tap together in the vice. Wet the cork in petrol and try it in a tap - it should slide but be quite stiff. Up end the plunger again, and use your punch with a hammer to slightly swell the small end of the inner shaft, retaining it in the tap.

Prewar, the tap plungers were made so that you could adjust the corks and the reassembly sequence is a bit different. This is a prewar plunger, though not in it's own tap; the inner shaft has a 5/32" BSW thread (yes, really) retaining it in the knob, and the hex is about 3/4" across flats.

The shaft has a screwdriver slot and a lock nut, so when you slacken the lock nut you can turn the shaft and knob independently and compress the cork, improving the seal. The lock nuts are often missing, but early Meccano nuts are identical and readily available from specialists; they are a 5/32 BSW thread, but the hex is designed (or maybe just fits) 4 BA spanners.

The shafts are sometimes too short - the screwdriver slot is easily broken if you try to adjust it without removing the locknut. In this case, the only option is to replace the shaft or the whole plunger. Replacement shafts are not available but can be made on the lathe, as I show in this post.

There is a note of caution here though. If the locknut is absent, the thread damaged or just not tight, my W/NG is perfectly capable of loosening the tap cork after a fast run. The result of this discrete self-destruction is a strong smell of petrol in the garage and a drip tray curiously full... The moral of the tale of course, like most things with old bikes, is that nothing is 'fit and forget'.

If after replacing or adjusting your plungers, your tap is still leaking there maybe excessive wear or damage to the tap bore; you may have had trouble adjusting the cork to get it to slide evenly. It's a good idea to remove both plungers and inspect the bore - if you suspect it is worn, run an adjustable reamer through it to skim the surface and restore a consistent diameter through the tap. The bore is normally about 11/32" ID - I use an 11/32" - 3/8" adjustable reamer. Your aim is to remove the minimum amount of material, but to true up the surface:

When you have passed it through, look and see if you have cleaned the whole surface of the bore:

But what if you have no plungers? If you have a lathe you can make them quite easily, as I show in this post. Indian-made plungers are readily available on eBay and the ones I have seen use long M4 screws for the inner shaft. These are again of highly variable quality - the ones I have are plated very well, and look good - but of the five I have, only three have the inner shaft hole in the centre and the corks are way too short...

Usefully though, they can also be made adjustable. I made this one using a long brass M4 screw, with a slotted head filed flat and an M4 lock nut.

Once refurbished, these taps are very reliable. Attach them to the tank with a Dowty sealing washer:

Here's a dual plunger tap beloved of Ariel, fitted with two pre-war (so large size), adjustable plungers.