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Garage Diary : Sunbeam Motorcycle resto's..

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Question :  Is a restoration of a post-war Sunbeam motorcycle of interest here., or should I leave it with the specific marque motorcycle club ?  

 

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^ This particular bike is a 1953 S7-deluxe, which I started restoring a few years ago but never got around to getting done..  She does have an interesting history and was semi-customised., but I'm putting her back to almost standard specification (without ape hangers), albeit I have had its unusual 'Monochromatic' silver livery repainted

 

I've already done quite a lot., but the engine rebuild needs to be completed, and then a little reassembling of other parts...

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NB.. I'm working on this now because my tennis-elbow has been giving me jip, so I need to do light work for a while.  But, as and when I'm able, I'll need to get on with other projects - so this one still isn't likely to pull together quickly.. :roll:

 

Although bought it reasonably cheaply five years ago, the prices of old/classic bikes have subsequently gone stupid.  I'm also 'restoring'  it., so it's not exactly Autoshite territory any more.

..so interesting ? :  Yeah  :)   or   Not 4 'ere mate  :evil:   (like or not ? )

Bfg

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I always thought they came in black or green.

I knew someone who had one with side car chassis on. he had a flat board where the sidecar went and carried model steam engines on it which he used to make in his cellar.

The proper model trains they use to take children for rides on.

Said they were an engineering masterpiece. Sunbeams and his models.

He also had me looking for the chain for a while.

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I missed out of one of these aboutbtwentynhears ago. I rang up the second the paper arrived but was beaten to it by someone who had just rang up before me. A few weeks later I saw it up the street from me, only about two hundred yards away and got to know the new owner quite well. If the damn paper boy had gone the other way round it would have been mine.

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WAIT, you're restoring one of these?

 

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Oh, you mean the Sunbeam S7 motorbike. Carry on.

 

Wow a six wheeler, must be heavy passengers !?   I wish..   Actually if I hadn't so many projects on the go right now I'd be mighty tempted to buy and autoshite restore the Vincent horsebox ..posted recently on another thread  :) http://autoshite.com/topic/26804-ebay-tat-volume-3/?p=1191977

 

Anyone got a big, dry, woodworm free barn I might park it in for a couple of years ?  ...please ;)

 

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^ ooowh I'd love that old horse bus. I'd get a pair of my old horses (motor cycles) in the back and have still have room for a coffee bar and bunk. Then I'd potter off and do a tour of Ireland  ;) 

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Wow great response.. 11 yeses out of 99 views in just four hours.  ..guess I'd better extract my digitum then.. :shock: and show you what's happening.. 

 

The bikes were incredibly unpopular for so many years (until very recently), so I'm always glad to hear anecdotes ..however far back they go back.. whether good,  bad.  or just amusing. :lol:

 

Thanks to you all ..I really appreciate the motivation :-D

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Oh yes!

A Sunbeam S7 is real bikeshite. In a two wheeled world obsessed by sport and speed it was something quite different and I have liked them since seeing one ragged around a field / river bank by a pair of yoofs in about 1965.

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^ I'm not sure I'd have Stephen Fry sit that closely behind me. :shock: 

(..Hugh Laurie and the smiley sharing the same expression ? )  :lol: 

 

p.s.  Yes, the bike photographed here is the very one I'm restoring.

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Is this an S7 ?

 

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I went to this as a cut out / non start job one chilly Sunday morning.

The battery was showing about 2v and it wouldn't produce a decent spark when it was kicked over so the resourceful owner had got his wife to drop over a spare 6v battery to him but that was also dead flat.

We briefly thought about trying to bump start it but looking at the tiny drive shaft going to the back wheel and the possibility of damaging something that idea soon got parked up.

 

I needed to get some charge into the Sunbeams 6 volt battery but my van is strictly 12v but as we now had two batteries to play with i was able to wire them in series,sit them on the vans side step and give them both 15 mins of jump lead action without fear of damage.

 

This worked on the bikes original battery (the other battery was goosed) and gave us enough charge to easily restart the bike and the little ammeter was showing a couple of amps charge when the engine was revved but sod all with the lights on.

The chap said he thought the short,leisurely ride out from his nearby home wasn't long enough to put back in to the battery more charge than the lights were taking out

 

He also told me the story that after the war BSA / Sunbeam aquired the plans of a BMW R75 and the bike was loosely based on the german machine.

 

It was a lovely bike though,quirky and scruffy / original.

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That black one is an S8 - bit sportier, same engine, different forks.    I think a Sunbeam thread fits in just right on here - they have always had a fairly narrow appeal and were not universally liked when new.    

 

Moar please, BFG!

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/\   Yes., it's a Sunbeam S8,  nicely adorned with both period and contemporary accessories. (NB. pin stripes were not a post-war thing with Sunbeams, these appear to have been home applied).  'Sportingly' weighing in 25lb lighter than the S7., the S8 had a very similar frame (seat mounts only differ), but then used BSA A7 front forks and skinny chromed wheel rims. These in turn led to the exhaust silencer being changed to an upswept one ..rather nicely defined in cast aluminium.  And of course it's mudguards were very much slimmer, allowing luggage bags to sit tighter. 

 

The only other differences were the type of saddle and front brakes. The engine with in-series flywheel, clutch, & gearbox, then shaft drive to the rear wheel worm drive (differential) - were the same for either bike. As was the rear plunger-suspension and all electrics.  Below.,  is my own S8 from July '53.  I bought her in 2012 and was used for my commute to work (because she's so easy in town traffic). She is still my 'daily' ride.  Likewise 'a lovely bike though, quirky and scruffy'. :mrgreen:

 

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The eagle eyed Shiter will spot ; 'Pudge'  the s7-d  (feature of this thread's restoration) and 'Nudge' the above S8 are sister bikes (clue in their registrations) with just five and a half weeks difference in age.

 

I ought to declare that aside from a lifetime of affection for these bikes.., for 18 months I restored these bikes professionally.  :rolleyes:   I'd been made redundant and so to pay the rent - turned a hobby into a business.  As a motorcyclist and as a Design Engineer (..like the Sunbeam - from the West Midlands) - I was intrigued by the Beam's quirky/advanced features (in context of the immediate post-war era) and that led me to look deeper.  I had my own website, which I've kept going for those wanting to know more about the bikes.  If you suffer insomnia or are otherwise bored silly at work then < start here >. -_-

 

"after the war BSA / Sunbeam acquired the plans of a BMW R75 and the bike was loosely based on the German machine"  ..is an oft' repeated story.  No offense to your source - but from research and my own career experience - I dismiss it as being rooted in the blabbering of yet another wordsmith who can't be arsed to research or to actually think any deeper than the dog shit pressed into the tread of his own shoe.  On the (above linked) website you'll see an alternative to that version of history.   :ph34r: 

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 ..is an oft' repeated story.  No offense to your source..

 

It is true that the Hillman IMP was re engineered to be several inches wider... pretty much as the final design was put to bed.

 

It is true that 'the slug' (hack/development mule/testbed) for the project was Villiers powered....

 

It is not true the final model 'Caledonian' had a HRW - to keep hands warm when bump starting it... 8)

 

* yes, an IMP can be a 'Sunbeam'.

 

 

TS

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I never had the opportunity to ride a Sunbeam - they were always a rare machine and unlikely to be found amongst students' bikes at colleges.  Nevertheless, an occasional sighting was always a pleasure.  Apart from the police LE200 Velos, shaft drive was unusual and so much cleaner than a chain.  At school in Germany (sixth form - 1969), a classmate had a BMW R27, a 250cc shaft driven single.  His name was Lionel Norton which often caused mild amusement amongst the developing motorcyclists in the class.  One lunchtime, he gave me a pillion ride from school at Rheindahlen to the nearby Wegberg Ring - a public road - for a circuit.  The R27 was so smooth! Engine and suspension were as refined as a car's.  My steed at the time was a Peugeot moped - it still exists and is in my garage.

 

These days, arthritic hips prevent me from straddling a motorcycle (or anything else, for that matter), but I still attend nearby motorcycling events at Stanford Hall where I've done most of my Sunbeam spotting, either at the Owners' Club meeting or more by chance at the VMCC Founders Day Rally which attracts many hundreds of bikes including an occasional Sunbeam.

 

A thread on Sunbeam motorcycle restoration is most welcome and a pleasant contrast to the acres of rust which also provide us with informative entertainment here  :-D .

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Sunbeam s7 with sidecar feature in Hallets of Canterbury front window c. 1951/52.   It's not where my bike came from but still a tasty aperitif..

 

 

Ok., here we go.

 

A little background about 'Pudge' ..this particular S7-d...  

 

The Sunbeam S7 was the flagship model of not only Sunbeam Motor Cycles but the whole of the BSA Motorcycle group (who had bought Sunbeam in 1943).   And although this bike left the factory in the standard light-green colour - it was completely stripped down and professionally painted monochromatic (earliest form of metallic paint) Silver very early in it's life.  Records no longer exist exactly when she was painted but we may reasonable speculate..  

 

NXN 530 was originally registered in London on Thursday 4th June 1953, the first working day after Her Majesty the Queen's Coronation (2nd June). (NB. Wednesday was a public holiday ...time to get over the hangover from Tuesday's celebrations!).

 

So picture, in your mind's eye if you will ; London in a buzz of excited anticipation not felt since V.E.-Day  ..of horse-drawn Royal carriage parades, flags flying high across every street and square. And in the summer sunshine.. the Coronation of Princess Elizabeth.   Just streets away, there on the High Street, in the broad expanse of a glitzy whitewashed Art Deco motorcycle showroom, centre-piece under tungsten spot lamps on raised plinth, is a brand new highly-polished metallic-silver Sunbeam S7-deluxe  amidst red, white & blue buntings.!  Strategically placed all around would be gleaming BSA., Ariel, and Villier classics in their standard red, white, and blue livery..

 

..even today it would look spectacular, but in context of post war austerity.. such a front window display would have had a mega WOW factor.! :-D :-D :-D 

 

 

p.s. some of you may remember Triumph Bonneville's Silver Jubilee edition.?

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 And in the summer sunshine.. the Coronation of Princess Elizabeth.  

 Sorry to put a dampener on your glorious picture - but it pissed it down on Coronation Day and the maximum temp was 12 deg C.

 

As for the Sunbeam - carry on with the news. These particular Sunbeams along with Aerial Square Fours* were rare flashes of originality amongst the monotonous parade of parallel twins and singles churned out by the British factories.

 

*can also add Vincent V twins and Douglas & Velocette boxers (but others, on the Continent, did these)

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 Sorry to put a dampener on your glorious picture - but it pissed it down on Coronation Day and the maximum temp was 12 deg C.

 

As for the Sunbeam - carry on with the news. These particular Sunbeams along with Aerial Square Fours* were rare flashes of originality amongst the monotonous parade of parallel twins and singles churned out by the British factories.

 

*can also add Vincent V twins and Douglas & Velocette boxers (but others, on the Continent, did these)

 

I was about 3 and a half years old and enjoyed a sunny Coronation Day with flag lined streets.  We were based in Malta - dad was in the RAF.  

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