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Garage Diary : Sunbeam Motorcycle resto's..

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It's been a long time since I worked on this Sunbeam..  I'd otherwise been busy with restoration of the Ami-Super, and when that was on the road (mid-last year ..although still needing a lot of cosmetic work)  I stepped across to build a new water tank and to start the rewiring in my old boat.  But now that the weather is most conducive to staying in the house I thought it time to muster some motivation to work this bike  (I'd lost all interest following the disappointment of the work I had paid for with the engine) .. 


So the first job was to dig the bike out from under the bench in my lounge, which was piled high with DVD's ..and then to remove the bench so as to more easily get the frame out and sort components into sub-assembly type piles. Aside from the rear-drive hub (which I'd rebuilt some years ago) and the gearbox - the bike was totally stripped down for repainting / re-chroming.  Subsequently I'd only reassembled the centre-stand and part of the brake linkage assembly.  Other bits were just loosely hung to sort and store them out of the way.



^ unburied (..if that's a real word ?)  and in the process of sorting into boxes of engine, frame bits, electrics, rear drive and shaft-drive, gearbox, forks, handlebars and levers, etc.


I decided that today I'd tackle rebuilding the forks.  I don't know if I have new seals or not, but I do know that the forks were completely stripped - so the fork-lowers and shrouds might be painted.  The painted bits have ever since been sitting in the corners of my bedroom, for safe keeping. ..that was probably five years ago ..so hopefully the paint will have hardened by now !  :-D 


So again the first task was to gather the bits.. 


^ this is a very rare bike, insomuch as it is an S7-deluxe ..painted silver rather than the usual pastel green. I speculate this was done by special order by the London dealer as a showroom display leading up the Queen's Coronation in March 1953.  The bike was first registered on first day after that holiday.  The post-war Sunbeam was possibly the first motorcycle to be production painted with monochromatic paint (now known as metallic).


I removed the masking tape, from where the painter had cover the threads,  and set to cleaning those threads of any grit blasting that might have got in. The chrome plated seal holders are being replaced by others I've had re-chromed. Its inside screw thread is super-fine.



^ It took me an hour to get the two parts of just one fork to screw together smoothly. :?    But it's a job that has to be done carefully ..tightening 1/8th of a turn and backing off again as required. I did this by hand so as to not damage the paint or the chrome.  If they were to get stuck firmly together - partly on, partly off and seized - I'd be cussing.!   I must have undone this thread completely a dozen times to wipe it clean and to apply fresh 'copaslip'.  


Tip :  if the items do get stuck together : use a (suitably padded) shaft through the fork-lower's wheel-spindle hole for extra leverage and the rubber grips used to open jars in the kitchen, positioned 1" from the threaded end, to grip and turn the chromed seal-holder. 


Note :  On re-assembly, there is a leather seal to be fitted, rather like a piece of 1/16" leather (square in section) shoelace,  that sits between the chromed seal holder and the painted fork-lower to prevent direct edge-to-edge contact of the two parts.  I'm guessing it was originally glued end to end and then pinched in place by the seal holder.  Fortunately my forks still had theirs in place and are in good shape to be reused.  Stewart Engineering do not supply replacements for these leathers but instead recommend the use of silicon sealer to seal the thread, perhaps in conjunction with a piece of natural fibre string in place of the leather seal. 


I next turned my attention to the stanchions, which now needed even further dismantling - to replace their oil seals, to de-rust the springs, and to clean those screw-threads. . 


^ you can see on the nearest stanchion that I've removed the chrome seal holder.  I just pull the seal-holder downwards sharply ..and the seal gets stopped by the bush on the stanchion ..knocking the seal out easily*.   The seal is left on the stanchion, and to remove / replace it - the nut on the bottom of the fork has to be removed, so that the bronze bushes might first be removed.  These nuts have only been on there for 65 years.


This nut has a hole through it, has very narrow flats, and is rounded to fit inside the fork-lower, so getting a (1 - 3/16") spanner to fit and undo it wasn't going to happen.!  I grip the nut in a vice with the stanchion vertical, and used a big pipe wrench to turn the stanchion off the nut.  Naturally that pipe wrench was used near the top of the stanchion (inbetween where the fork yokes fasten to it) and not where the seal runs up n' down.  Don't even use the pipe wrench on the middle part of the stanchion because during reassembly the seal may be pushed up this and a shard (from where the grips have dug in) might damage the new seal. 


^ nut, bushes and seal removed. springs and stanchion cleaned up on the bench / power wire wheel.    NB. when that  nut is removed the bottom bush still tends to be stuck on.  However the long upper bush is a sliding fit, and this can be used like a sliding-hammer to gently knock the bottom bush downwards and off the stanchion.  


* If you have the seal-holder off the stanchion, and only then realise you need to get the seal out  Then the seal needs to be drifted out with a tube inserted from the other end.  Despite having a 'mature' workshop.. I don't have a suitably sized (35 - 36mm diameter) drift.  However, I do have a thick washer of that diameter, which I drop in and centralise to the seal, as a 'size adjuster' for a length of 1" diameter tube positioned over this - to be used as the drift.  So, with the seal-holder standing upright on the wooden bench - a confident tap with a bit of 4 x 2" timber on the end of that 1" tube.. and the seal is out in a jiffy. 


Tomorrow I'll get on and clean the fine threads of the other fork-lower and see how far I can get on with this. I'm motivated again now. 


Bfg ;)


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As a point of passing interest ;  you'll see in the 2nd & 4th photos of the previous post and again in the illustration below that the S7-deluxe forks have a thread (and large nut) some 6-1/2" from their top. Immediately below this is a taper on the stanchion.  This is because the S7-deluxe stanchion's taper  fits into the lower steering yoke, and the large nut very tightly secures it.  The steering's top yoke is adjusted to the steering head bearings before the clamp around the stanchion is tightened.   Conversely, the BSA / Sunbeam S8  stanchions have a taper at their top, which sit into the top yoke.  This taper is pinched up by the fork's oil filler cap.  The lower yoke simply clamp onto the stanchions.  I've always thought the S7 forks felt nicely solid compared with those on the S8 ..perhaps this might be attributed to the difference in securing them.




Moving on..,  You might also have noted in the last photo of my previous post  what looks to be a shiny split washer for the nearer fork assembly, but not one for the other. 


Oddly when I noted this on Friday it was positioned between the seal and the seal holder.  I phoned Stewart Engineering (the Sunbeam people) and spoke to Rob who said it was a shim used on some forks to take up end float, which is only there when the fork is fully extended ..and so most folk don't bother refitting it.  I didn't quite understand why it should be just there then ?   


Although it is absent from most parts diagram you can see one in the middle of the illustration above .. from an original workshop manual.  This is a shim which may if required  be fitted in between the bush and its circlip inside the fork lower  ..to take up any slack, perhaps from machining tolerances.  It would also be necessary if a thinner gauge of circlip is used.  ie. it has nothing to do with the seal or seal holder. But if that bush were to move up n' down - then it would wear against the inside the fork lower ..and become prematurely loose.


The following might show a little clearer where it goes.  .


^  The long bronze bush (normally fitted on its stanchion) is pushed in the fork lower.  The ring-circlip (bottom of photo) sits in a grove (red arrow) to hold the bush in place. If there's any slack inbetween the bush and the circlip - then a shim of the appropriate thickness is fitted .   


It's easy enough to check to see if there is any end play (which there should not be) with the bush off its stanchion and dropped inside the fork lower and the clip replaced.  Any longitudinal movement (..measured with a feeler gauge) is removed by fitting a shim.  I trial reassembled those bushes into my fork lowers and fitted the best ring-circlips I have ..and there is no discernible slack.  So why that shim was there but in the wrong place remains a time capsule mystery. :?


Btw those ring-circlips have a reputation for being a sod to fit.  However they require no special tool, just a regular screwdriver, but there is a technique..   Place the clip in the end of the fork lower, rotated so that its end is appropriately near the notch used for prising it out.   Then with hand firmly over the end of the fork lower to keep the clip in place ..tap the screwdriver down and inwards near the end of the clip.  This pushes the clip down and onto the smaller diameter ledge that its groove is machined into.  Repeat a little way around ..so then most of the clip is resting in the smaller diameter.  Continue around once or twice more, and then the clip is easy to slip into the groove.  I can do this on my own with the one hand holding the screwdriver blade in position and at the same time stopping the clip from coming out again. I lightly tap the handle with the hammer in t'other hand.  No circlip pliers are used. :P

- - -


I then turned my attention to removing the masking tape and cleaning up the screw threads of the other fork lower.  This side's seal holder went on very easily compared with that on Friday ..taking just a few minutes.   Refitting the wheel spindle however was a different matter altogether.    :twisted:


NOTE to self : Check these wheel spindle threads are free and easy - BEFORE sending the fork lower off to be painted.  I got away with it this time because the paint was good and dry, but still I had to be very careful, using a folded cotton sheet to protect the paintwork even from the clean Formica bench surface.  


The coarse left-handed thread of the wheel spindle, even when using the correct tommy bar,  turned  in almost two-and-a-half turns before locking up tight !  I'm fortunate insomuch as I had two spare rear axle spindles with good threads on them. These,  although longer, use the same oddball left-handed thread (on the S7-deluxe) as on the front.  I used the slackest of these to sweat in as far as I could, then I used the second to get to the same number of turns in, and then went back to the correct (shorter) front wheel spindle ..sweating it (literally) to get to the same number of turns in yet again. . 



^ After an hour or so, this is as far as I'd got. The arrow shows the surface stain of where it had been screwed in while the bike was parked up for years within a damp garage.



^ six threads in ..half way !


Some hours later, and quite a bit of perspiration despite an 18" extension to the Tommy bar - the three spindles ..one after the other gradually re-rolled / re-formed the thread inside the fork lower. . 



Success.  Now with ease and a 6" Tommy-bar I can tighten the spindle in. 


These spindle should be easy to fit and to pinch up with the bike's normal (small) toolkit Tommy bar. No great effort need be applied - because both front and rear wheel spindles are then clamped to prevent their coming undone.


Bfg ;)


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Not much progress on the Sunbeam this last week, not least because the fork seals took 10 days to arrive. This was not the fault of Stewart Engineering who posted them on the 5th  (I'd ordered them on Saturday 3rd) but the post office, who seem unable to prioritize (..first in first out) the backlog of post after a little winter weather ! 


..And then when they did arrive (this morning (Monday 12th) they were single lip rather than double ..and so I need to send them back !  That really p'd me off because I firstly wanted to get on and to quickly wrap-up this little job, but also because single lip seals are not standard nor correct, and Stewart Engineering should know better.


This is one of those situations where the seal both keeps oil in the component and dirt out.   This is because it is quite easy, as the forks pump up and down, for gritty road dust to go in between the seal holder and the fork shroud - to where the spring is.  From there it drops down onto the top of the seal. Add a little road water spray and you have grinding paste. A single lip seal acts as a funnel to guide the dust onto the fork slider.   And as I live on a farm, down a dirt track (very dusty in the summer months) - this is a very real issue. 



^ This shows how the single lip seal would funnel dust/dirt directly against the fork slider, resulting in rapid wear. To the bottom of the photo is the original seal from these forks ..with its double lip (red arrow) which is there to keep the dust / grit out.


Stewart Engineering do have a double lip seal, albeit with rubber around the outside of the seal - which will be a much tighter fit in the seal holder. They've offered to replace these single-lip type ..so I am now awaiting those.

- - -


The other thing I ordered was Zinc / cold galvanising spray paint from Toolstation, as I wanted to protect from rust those parts of the stanchion which sit under the fork shrouds, also the fork springs, inside the seal holders, and inside the fork shrouds.  I've used this cold-galvanising on my Ami and like the stuff.  Unfortunately they too couldn't mange to deliver as promised :( I wanted to get these painted ..and radiator dried hard, long before reassembly. So, anticipating the seals arrival at any moment, I went out specifically to buy some (over-the-counter) ..another 2 hours of my life lost !


Naturally I'd checked these stanchions were straight when I first dismantled the forks ..just in case I needed to have them straightened or to replace them.  Checking is done by simply rolling them on a flat kitchen-counter and seeing if there were any wobble at the end. These were fine.  And also I had visually inspected for pitting, scoring &/or wear of the sliders themselves. Again these are in really good shape. 


Tip : if scored or pitted the ol' boy trick is to solvent clean that scratch and apply nail varnish (cellulose paint) into it.  Once dry the surplus can be sliced off with a sharp razor blade or rubbed off with fine wet n' dry. The varnish fills the void and stops oil leaking passed the seal. It also takes away the hard / sharp edge which would otherwise damage the lip of the new seal.  I've done this in the past and it works fine. I've also used Araldite (epoxy glue) to do the same.    


Next was to clean up the areas to be painted. They'd already been power-wire-brushed, but I use spray carb-cleaner as a convenient cleaning-solvent prior to spraying, and then mask up the screw-threads and places where the stanchion fits into steering yokes, and of course the fork slider itself.





^ The chemical pickling used in cleaning and re-chroming these seal holders has left rust inside them. This was wire wooled to remove the loose and then cold galvanised (below).



^ The insides of the fork seal holders and fork shrouds were each cold galvanised.


So that's all I have to report so far.  Not reassembled just as yet, just a little more checking and painting done ..and a lot of waiting.


Bfg ;)


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Exactly one year on.. and the Sunbeam restoration discussed above has not moved-on at all.!   :-(    Its frame, forks, engine, etc.,  are all still apart and here in my sitting room.  In short, the work I’d paid for on this bike's engine was so upsetting that it smothered my enthusiasm.   


Mind you (..regarding this particular bike) Parcel-Force making a balls-up of delivering the Loctite 294 ‘wicking threadlocker didn’t help my mindset either. I'd ordered it from the States (..to seal around the leaky cylinder sleeve inserts),  and was appropriately charged the customs duty ..but then they sent the parcel back to America.!.?   It literally took 3 months of  to’ing and fro’ing.   


Anyway., I picked myself up and moved on with other projects, from mid-March one year ago - that kicked off with fitting batteries, wiring and interior lights to my boat < here >  in OtherBoatshite.


Project Status : Sunbeam's Restoration - Stalled,   but full-steam-ahead on Boatshite8)

- - -


So one year on..  Am I now back to work on this bike's restoration ?  Nope sorry, not yet.  But I had four other Sunbeams, a Norton Commando, and a BMW K75 motorcycle which also called for my attentions.   The first of which was a Sunbeam 'basket case'.. In short an assorted pile of bits which roughly constituted most of a bike ..needing full restoration and assembly.  That was sold first.


Next was the K75 Ultima., which I put back on the road - last June, after having been laid up for seven years. I briefly discussed that on The Bikeshite Thread < here >  and then a few months later I had a couple of silly bills from the boat-yard so again needed to raise some money. The BMW was put up for sale and sold in September.


And then just a couple of weeks ago, on that same thread < here >, I shared a little of what I was doing with the most elegant 'Katie'..  She's an early (1948 model) Sunbeam S7 which I'd very much like to keep.  I thought to update that thread with further reports, but with their focus on mopeds and modern bikes ..well I just don't feel like me n’ my old bikes fit in there.  So if y'all don't mind - I'll just amble along quietly in this corner.  

- - -


Shockingly this January - the storage rent on my old boat hiked big time (250% !) and without fore-warning. That was particularly upsetting because I already walk a financial tightrope. So this year I need to get the boat back in the water,  move to live on it (..to save paying rent on a house + poll tax, etc.), and then I need to get out of this marina.   The plan is to buy a 20ft container,  and although I’ll have to pay rent to store it in a field somewhere, I reckon it’s necessary for me to get over the emotional brickwall of having to sell up ‘everything’..  In short I can keep three bikes, plus a whole bunch of tools, some furniture, and some personal possessions and books. 


However, because of the bill increase - I'm also running out of money ..But I do still have five motorcycles (..these are my savings).  So two of those need to be readied and sold. 


As two of my Sunbeams are sisters. The S7-deluxe restoration was the subject of this thread, and aside from being 'The Coronation Bike' in all her sparkling splendour, is within the family is known simply as 'Pudge'.  Her somewhat slimmer S8 sister's name is 'Nudge'.  They are both from London*, with less than six-weeks in age between them, each dressed in Polychromatic silver, and I have a close relationship with them. Then I'm also especially fond of 'Katie'.  So it'll have to be 'Hovis' my traditional in black 1955 Sunbeam S8,  and 'Norton the Commando' to find new caring homes for. 

* Pudge's registration is NXN 530 first registered the day after the coronation of ERII,  and Nudge is NXN 791 registered the following month,

so ..as the Sunbeam were the flagship bikes of the BSA group, it's quite conceivable that they might both have been featured in the same London

motorcycle dealer's show-room window during the Queen's coronation.


Both the Sunbeam and the Norton need recommissioning before they can be sold, but that work for Hovis is the easier / lesser amount. My target is to have her ready before the end of this month.  So here we go . .

- - -


Over the years I've owned quite a few post-war Sunbeams. The first was ..oh so many years ago, when I were a student.  And then, in the past decade I bought a barn-find project bike called 'Gas', which I got running but then sold to a close friend so that I might afford  Nudge.  In turn, she became my daily ride to and from work, and at weekends for cross country jaunts, and then again on holiday from Suffolk to Dorset (..all the way without going on a motorway or dual carriageway), or to London.  However.., very soon after I got her, her big-end failed (..having been mechanically restored by a member of VMCC).   Alas, the quickest way of getting the bike back on the road was to swap engines with another Sunbeam S8 I had acquired and was rebuilding. That being Hovis.  So the just rebuilt engine went not back into Hovis but into Nudge.  And now that Hovis is destined to find a wealthier new owner - then it's only right that the engines be swapped back into their rightful frames. . . 



^ of course Nudge lives inside during the winter, she's family.



^  Oh., Nudge "has left the building" !



^ ah, she's on the boardwalk 



^ saddle bags off ..she's looking good. And what a nice silencer !



^ Oh yes, nice and trim behind



^ a little turn for us ;)



^ getting down babe



^ takes the weight off., and set aside those electrical boxes



^  Nudge.. please be careful ..do remember you are 66 years old in just a few months


That's it, nice and easy


^ Are you sure that's how you dance the fandangle ! ?



^ Phew, ease the load.



^ I say, isn't that your gearbox Nudge ?  We'd better let Hovis have his engine back and we'll put the gearbox aside for you.  Now whose lightened flywheel was that ?      


That's all for tonight Folks.

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^ a valid question,   but not available ..as far as I understand.  I have other Loctite on my shelf  but no-one I tried at that time, including Loctite themselves had Loctite 294 ‘wicking' thread-locker ..which is what I felt the problem called for.


re. a generic alternative.  Well I do use such things rather than paying for a brand name, but in this instance I wasn't prepared to take the risk that it didn't work as well. In this case if the wicking thread-locker didn't work to seal around the cylinder sleeve - then all compression would be lost and the engine wouldn't work.   So although what's identified to be the best / most-likely-to-work-solution is more expensive ..Is it wise to save £20 when the risk is another complete engine strip and then to press the sleeves out - would cost so very much more.?    Not for me. I have to save where I can, but I'll not take the risk with something so critical &/or difficult to correct.


Bfg ;)

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^ absolutely no* expense spared. It was the finest little pallet I could find  ;)


..remarkably., for securing and carrying camping gear, sleeping bag, etc., etc., etc. it's the best I've ever used. :)

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Evening all :)


I had a particularly frustrating day today, nothing at all to do with working on the bikes, but mucking me about so much that it was 4pm before I could get on with this engine swap.  But get on I did . .


Say hello to Hovis,



^  ..whose been resident in my living room for longer than I care to remember.  Fortunately he sleeps standing up and so I don't have to share my couch.


My first task was to get his own gearbox ready to be fitted back onto his engine (matching numbers an' all). 

This is where I started ..



^ looking into the bell-housing, the sheen and splash of oil is typical for two reasons. The first being the in-put shaft seal has gone hard over time &/or was damaged when fitted, and then the assembly of this front cover plate is wrong insomuch as under the nuts are star washers.  Originally they were flat plate tabs with turned up / locking corners.  



^ The problem with star washers (..and also split locking-washers) is they don't seal, so oil from the inside of the engine, gearbox or rear drive seeps up passed the studs and then isn't stopped.  The seeping happens because the oil level is above the stud &/or because things heat up when the bike is running ..and the air inside expands and so under pressure pushes out of any gap.


Generally, when I refurbish one of these gearboxes (open it up and check everything inside, repair as necessary, and replace every seal) I also drill a small hole behind the clutch cable's boss. Into that I glue a tiny piece of pipe to serve as a breather tube. This is into the top of a low splash zone, by the kickstart mechanism, so it doesn't leak.  However as I'm no longer going to restore and use this bike I'll not refurbish the gearbox.  But because I know a breather is needed - I'm leaving the top two nuts of the front cover with star washers. Expanding / contraction of air can vent passed those. I changed the star washers of the lower six nuts for plain washers bedded onto engine sealant.       



^  with those washers replaced and the inside of the bell housing cleaned up of oil and grit, I extracted the old input seal.. This is simply done by drilling a small hole, screwing in a self-tapper, and pulling on that. The seal is an interference fit and there's no clips holding it in place.



^ When fitting the new seal it crucial to protect its lip from being slit by the splines (which fit into the clutch).  An offcut of plastic bag wrapped around the splines is enough, and it's quick to do.  The seal slides over the plastic until it reaches the machined sealing face of the shaft. The plastic is simply pulled out before the seal is eased/pushed and then finally drifted into place  (NB. I use appropriately sized old-fashioned box spanners as tubular drifts).



^  suitably cleaned, Hovis' gearbox is at long last reunited with its engine.  I'll have to check sometime how long it's been and how many miles I've put on that engine since it was fitted into Nudge.   I have two more lightened flywheels, one for Nudge and the other for Pudge  ..machined and ready for their reassembly, so this one and the clutch remained undisturbed.


From the previous and above photo.. you might have noted the (relatively huge) aluminium casting of the bell housing. This is a heat sink for the rear cylinder and back of the engine ..which of course is somewhat sheltered from the cooling air flow around a motorcycle . 


Many in-line and square-four motorcycle engines have been tried but almost all of those suffer from the rear cylinder(s) getting too hot, particularly those of pre-unit gearbox construction.  Earling Poope, the innovative designer of these Sunbeams, had this neat solution which, if thought about at all, might be assumed to be part of the engine's art-deco styling or else simply a copy of car design. To further dissipate heat from the rear of the cylinder head - he also positioned the cam-chain tunnel with oil return full-width across the back of the engine ..so that cylinder's heat would literally be washed away down the insides of the aluminium engine casting.  He was clever dicky !  8)     


On the early (his original) S7 - the access cover in the rear face of the bell housing (removable to see the flywheel and set the ignition timing) had open-louvres ..so hot air within could escape. This air was of course being swirled and fanned by the spinning clutch and flywheel.

- - -



^ Hovis is my youngest ..so understandably a little shy



^ looking a totally different type in black and with a dual seat.. If it were not for having no final-drive-chain he might easily be mistaken for a BSA. 


Converting to the twin seat updates the bike's styling from the immediate-post-war-look of a rider's saddle, possibly with a separate rear-mudguard-mounted 'fanny seat' ..so was incredibly common in the late 1950 and early 60's. Indeed I believe Sunbeam even offered it as an option.  However very few Sunbeams have retained this 'period' feature.  It seems today's owners much prefer the older vintage look .

..So can I say this is a 'Rare'  bike ?  :mrgreen:     


Although restored many years ago I'm pleasantly surprised at the excellent condition of the engine and gearbox castings. In contrast, Nudge's original engine has numerous broken cooling fins ..which will be a challenge to restore to anything like correct and authentic.


While the engine was out and with clear access I thought I'd address an oil weep. .


^ The hard-cornered cover with x3 Allen head set-screws and the pipe out of its underside face, is simply an after-market cover for the engine breather.  Originally the breather vent was just a slot open to the air flow ..so anything that came out of it splattered down the front of the engine and then blew back into and was subsequently baked into all the cooling fins.  A rubber or plastic tube fits onto this brass pipe, and is taken down the frame tube to underneath the bike ..where the crankcase vapours are vented.  When noting this oil smear I had assumed the cover or its pipe had been leaking, but it seems the oval cover to the right (which fits over the end of the overhead camshaft) was seeping.  I've removed that and cleaned the surface up again and will try re-sealing it tomorrow.  In the meantime the front of the engine was cleaned of its oil spill.



^ by 6:45 I was carefully easing the engine and gearbox into Hovis



^  that'll do for this evening .. I'm hungry !  The original 1955 engine and gearbox assembly is back into the frame. The two rubber engine mounts are loose fitted with their bolts and so carry the weight and the lifting block n' tackle is loose.  The rest is just careful alignment and reassembly of the ancillaries. I have no idea why all the bike's wiring is out. It was so long ago, and so many bikes later that I really cannot remember.  Never mind it's pretty easy so it'll go back in next week. 


Until next time, I bid you a good'n  ;)


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Jigsaw puzzle : 1950's 3d stye   :mrgreen:  . .



^ with three very similar bikes now in so many pieces, my task yesterday was to sort what bits goes with which bike. ! ?



^ while sorting these out, I realised why Hovis  was so dismantled  ..ding !   


.       As someone who's getting old.. this was a matter of some concern, because I neither remember having issues with the bike, nor do I actually remember taking it apart ! ?  Subconsciously I'm worried about loosing my faculties.  But aside from the engine being borrowed for Nudge, the reason it was more stripped than I recall was because., while collating bits for Pudge's restoration - I took the opportunity to have parts of this bike re-chromed.  This was in addition to similar bits off  Nudge, and then also the winches, fairleads and cleats off my boat.  My order for re-chroming was over a 120 individual pieces, and the focus was on Nudge's and the boat's bits .. and so I was not thinking about Hovis.   Phew ..I'm not senile, yet.!

- - -


Moving on . . .


As I'm hoping to keep three other bikes and not Hovis, it makes sense to cherry-pick parts of this bike, if they might be better suited to one of the others. I can't decide if this is immoral but it is how people end up with particularly special examples of classic bikes and cars ..Anyhow in this instance I'm just swapping this bike's U.J. for one with a painted black finish (ie., putting it back to 'original'). This afternoon's task ..



The chrome of the shaft-drive's universal-joint on this bike isn't original, they were always black painted. I hadn't done this 'customising' ..but I'd like it for one of my silver coloured bikes. Consequently I'm swapping it out for another I have in stock, which is also in good condition but for its cosmetics.



^ It looks rough but I had kept it as a spare because it swivels smoothly and I'm sure will clean up nicely


As it happens, it was a good job I had to remove the one on this bike ..because I discovered three out of four of the nuts holding the chrome U.J. on were not tight ! ..and the tab plates were not turned out to lock any of the nuts. So., the drive-shaft would soon have worked loose :?   ..not a bundle of fun to suddenly discover when traveling at speed.



^ The U.J. fits onto a coupling-flange from the rear-drive unit.  Behind this is a lip seal, and that was weeping. So although I'll be selling the bike very soon, while I'm this close - I thought replacing that seal was the decent thing to do.


Out of interest (..perhaps ?), this rear-drive is not a bevelled-gear, as you find in most car differentials, but is a worm drive and gear, similar to that used by the highest quality car makers of yesteryear like Lanchester (who with Daimler Cars were owned at this time by the BSA group, and who also owned Sunbeam bicycles and motor-cycles).  Its advantage over the bevel-drive is that it is quieter and smoother in operation. The disadvantage is that it is not as efficient and so absorbs precious performance.  But then 'The Sunbeam' was first and foremost designed to be the highest quality gentleman's motorcycle. And performance on 1940's roads was of lesser issue.   (..unless of course there were a German fighter aircraft up your tail pipe ! )



^ because the sealing face is on the coupling-flange just removed, there's now a gap between the spline and seal - to get a couple of screwdrivers in and to simply prise the old one out.



^ I find it useful to record the part number of consumables, both of those being fitted and also of the part being removed (different manufacturers have their own numbers) and then to get another to keep in stock. These need not be ordered from the main stockist (Stewart Engineering, Poole, Dorset, in the case of post-war Sunbeams motorcycles) but from a local bearing n' seal supplier ..for a fraction of the price. That way I save money and generally have such things in stock when needed. It is also far less disruptive when trying to get on with the job.  NB. a photo like the one above showing the seal in question and in the background where it goes is a quick n' efficient way to record those part numbers.


Btw., I've noted that Stewart Engineer tend to supply single-lip seals. As far as I'm concerned this is wrong for such a situation - it should be double-lipped, because the inward facing lip keeps the oil inside the housing, and the outside lip is to stop road spray, salt and grit from the sealing face. I assemble mine with a copious smear of silicon grease over and between the lips.   


The new seal was duly tapped into place (interference fit again, so no clip) flush with the surface of the casing.  And then turned my attentions to the replacement drive shaft and U.J.   The first task was to separate these two parts . .


Unfortunately the drive-shaft's spline was locked one part into the other (..most likely this had been knocked in too far, when it was released from the gearbox / giving a little more clearance for removal). It is supposed to be a greased sliding fit which takes up the difference in distance between the gearbox and the rear wheel hub ..as the suspension goes up and down. 



^ The forward end of these drive-shafts are quite lightly built (after all it's only a 500cc motorcycle) and so rather than strike the fitting-flanges directly with a block or hammer, you'll see above I've fitted the correct size bolt, to strike onto the flat of those heads. This saves bruising the drive-shaft with hammer blows and also dissipates the force to all around the mounting hole (whereas the hammer would only have hit the outside of the rim).  As it happens this particular shaft was the tightest I've yet come across, but as soon as I broke its lock the spline slid smoothly. There was almost no grease inside mind  :roll:  What you see below as wet sheen is penetrating oil.



^ the screw cap over the end of the spline is simply to keep dirt out and grease in. Under the cap should be felt wadding and a split ductile-steel washer ..which has to uncoil to be fitted or removed over the splines (see photo).  In this instance the felt had been replaced by a number of fibre-washers. Oh well ! 


The spline cleaned nicely on the power wire brush and so did the drive-shaft and U.J. .



^ The drive-shaft cleaned back to a smooth surface and given a coat of cold galvanizing (zinc). I find this stuff fills in a lot of the rust pitting and serves well enough as a primer for top-coat paint.


And then as it was meant to be chrome plated.. I painted it silver .  .



When this was dry I wanted to try something new ..to me..



^ this is self-adhesive aluminium-foil tape, which I'd bought when insulating the garage with foil-faced bubble wrap. I carefully smoothed it out instead of chrome, at least along the straight section of the shaft.  I've wound it around in the direction of rotation so it should stay put.  Only when seen in the daylight will I be able to properly gauge whether it looks better or worse than silver paint.  It's certainly neater than the pitted rust and bubbling or flaking chrome.



^ at the moment the aluminium foil looks like ..well aluminium, but I think because it is just aluminium it will also polish up like .. polished aluminium !   The U.J. smartened up very nicely, under the power-wire brush and a coat of paint. I thereafter refitted the grease nipple, and also the spline's screw cap with a new felt washer. The spline is coated with lith-moly grease (lithium-molybdenum) as used in modern vehicle CV joints ..as it is supposed to bear shear loads extremely well and is for where maintenance access is generally limited. 


I'll fit the assembly tomorrow, but am happy that with the new seal, a properly serviced spline on the drive-shaft, and the bolts tight and tabbed over - this Sunbeam will be good to go for many years yet.  And despite swapping out the U.J., the drive-shaft is very much neater than when I bought the bike. 


That's all for tonight. I hope it's been of interest and I bid you a pleasant evening.

Bfg. ;)

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The replacement driveshaft assembly was fitted on Saturday afternoon, along with the head-steady assembly, and then I set-up the motor correctly in its rubber mountings.


The rubber mounted engine on these bikes is a rather brilliant design, with just two isolastic type rubber engine mounts balancing the weight of the engine and gearbox. One is tucked in under the front of the cylinder head (so the engine hangs on it) and the other is at the back end of the gearbox (supported from under) .   


And because these mounts are diagonal (see red line in illustration below) relative to the crankshaft's rotational axis (blue line) ..a large part of the engine's torque-reaction is countered by their vertical component. In short, despite there only being two mounts, their geometry help cancel out the reaction - so very little gets through to effect the balance of the bike.  BMW motorcycles might well have learnt something from this ..as indeed might have most car makers.  Mind you the innovative Citroen 2cv got close, but never had much height to play with.. 




At the lower-front of the Sunbeam's engine are a pair of rubber buffers, and then diagonally opposite these (see yellow lines) ..above and just behind the cylinder head is another pair, and also a friction-damper.  Rubber engine mounts of course help absorb vibration, but on these bikes the friction-damper also does so.  These buffers & the damper limit the engine's lateral movement and prevent the engine bouncing around on its mounts. I've never seen as simple and ingenious a solution on any other vehicle. 

- - -



^ Today I cleaned the frame and touched-in numerous chips and scratches (I might add - these were inherited from previous mechanics). I then correctly adjusted the rear brake and its actuating rods and went around greasing moving linkages ..as is required in vintage bike maintenance.  Finally, I fitted the foot pegs and exhaust system. The down-pipes are different to those taken off  Nudge, but I'm using the same exhaust silencer and flexi-pipe coupling.


Two full afternoons work ..and that's all I've got done . huh !   I'd fire me if I could.! ;)


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yesterday I spent too much time sorting through my stash of spares and then piddling about with original fuel pipes, and yes I do mean 'original' 1950's. .



^ The u-shaped pipes go under the frame tube to balance out the fuel in one side to the other of the saddle-shaped fuel tank.  One of the (longer) fuel supply pipes is copper. It's probably a 1960's period replacement. The other is steel braided rubber (because it runs under the exhaust manifold). This I believe was original. 




The fuel taps were originally made by Ewarts, but most bikes have had these changed over the years. Being chrome over brass, these are in good shape but for a couple of missing grub screws, so I'll save them for the bike I'm restoring. Likewise the u-shaped balance pipes.  The braided tube I'll use as a pattern, and steal its brass end-fittings to make replacements for the bikes I'm keeping.  Having decided that I'll use the fuel pipes and taps taken off Nudge and those to Hovis.

- - -


This morning I tackled Hovis' fuel tank . .













^ I can't say it was an new tin, but it was previously unopened so full (a quart is almost a litre), so this shows how much drained back into the tin after a good slosh around inside this 5-gallon tank.



^ I brushed the paint out of the screw threads, for the petrol taps, and now the tank is left to dry.


..Lunch break over, so back to work.  I need to make new cork seals for inside the petrol taps..



p.s. if anyone is in the market to buy a Sunbeam S8 then ..  Roll up, Roll up, here !


Bfg ;)   


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Great stuff. I don't know much about motorcycles, though I'd heard of them being prop-driven, I've never seen one. Fantastic.


If you would like to buy this one for your collection, I'll take you for a spin.

I see rear footrests, have we got a pillion seat?

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I'm really enjoying reading about the work you're doing on this / these so please keep posting.


I'd love to be in the market for one but unfortunately markets require currency of which I don't have enough to participate!


Someone will end up with a cracking sorted bike that will give them many summers of hassle free sunny Sunday rides thanks to your work.

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If you would like to buy this one for your collection, I'll take you for a spin.

I see rear footrests, have we got a pillion seat?


It is a gentleman's motorcycle after all.


And yep . .


^ Hovis as bought (advert photo)  ..so overall cosmetically not a lot has changed, but a few details have been improved upon. 


I'm really enjoying reading about the work you're doing on this / these so please keep posting.


I'd love to be in the market for one but unfortunately markets require currency of which I don't have enough to participate!


Someone will end up with a cracking sorted bike that will give them many summers of hassle free sunny Sunday rides thanks to your work.


Thanks, the following are from when I rebuilt this engine a few years ago now. . .



^ I did a bit of smoothing out and polishing, ports, rocker arms, con-rods, etc. the usual stuff.



^ ..and then things like lightening the flywheel by 1/3rd,  and the sump extension with a modern disposable oil filter.  Otherwise it was down to blue-printing (..to minimum tolerances), machining & new components to address wear, and then the finer details of assembly. Aside from the motor itself, I've replaced the seals in the forks and also the steering-head bearings, so should handle nicely now. 

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Oh Shite !


I loathe paperwork especially filling in forms. I cannot explain why but I can barely cope with them and almost always end up upset.  Anyway, I received notification that the road tax was due from 1st April on my Chrysler Voyager and my Sunbeam S8 'nudge' (..my daily ride). Thank goodness for their V11 automated system, and those were done easy enough.  However, while at it (..read  "it should only take a couple of minutes more") I thought I'd better get the other bikes SORN or tax up to date ..after all they are all now 'historic vehicles' with no tax to pay, and whereas I once had 14 motorcycles and two cars, I'm now down to 'just' 5 motorcycles and 2 cars ..so I ought to be able to cope with that.


1.)  'Hovis' [HVS655] the black Sunbeam S8 I'm just recommissioning < above > to sell, 'cause I need to raise some money.  I bought this in Jan '11 and the V5 was transferred to my name, but while rebuilding its motor ..the big-end shells went on my daily rider 'Nudge'. So the freshly restored engine was dropped into her frame and Hovis was put in to dry store. Recently that engine was put back into the correct frame, and it's now time to tax the bike. However, the original registration number (unknown to me) had been raped and so the bike's V5 says the bike was registered in 1992.  As I've never used the bike the paperwork wasn't changed to historic vehicle. And it was last taxed to Apr 1st 1994 so there may be fines outstanding.  Rowlocks !


2.) 'Pudge' [NXN530] (the original subject of this topic) is a sister bike to 'nudge', and is an Sunbeam S7-deluxe first registered the day after the Queen's Coronation in June 1953. Aside from being painted silver to celebrate that auspicious occasion, the bike had a few interesting tidbits in life, insomuch as it was a prop in Mike Prior's photo studio, London, and was used with various celebrities such as the Nolan Brothers (American Rock), Robbie Coltrane, David Hasselhoff, and featured on the front cover of 'a Bit More Fry & Laurie".  Subsequently the bike was owned by Martin Glover (Punk musician aka 'Youth' with 'Killing Joke' etc, etc, who then went on to be a record producer for various artists including McCartney ). 




Anyway, I bought this bike in in March '13, and although the DVLA record says 'untaxed' from that date - I can't find the reg document in my name, but only one in the previous owner's name. Ooops ! 


3.) My other Sunbeam is 'Katie' [KTO345] which is an 'early' S7 model, first registered in Mar '48.  She's the most elderly in the stable, but was badly put together by the previous owner - so I never rode her ..other than a mile or two down the farm-track where I live.  Katie is registered in my name from Nov '12., I never notice before but the logbook says Taxation class : Not Licenced.  And the DVLA website records says 'Not taxed for on road use'..  I don't know what to make of that, aside from Sod !, but perhaps it's related to her having resided in Guernsey for a number of years (that where I bought and collected her from), despite still having the original UK registration.  


And finally 4.) my Norton 850 Mk2 Commando [PPV73M] which I brought back from the States and restored, first registered in this country in Nov '10, with as you can see a retrospective registration number.  Bought as a green bike with its original GRP petrol tank (which dissolves with ethanol fuels) I long ago changed that to a steel tank which I had painted metallic green.  She log book and DVLA website records it as a black bike (?). It is on SORN.  Again it has never been changed to 'historic vehicle', so although it no longer requires an MOT I'd have to pay road tax.. 


So out of the 7 vehicles I presently own I have three which are legal (including the Ami-super) but also four which I need to write to the DVLA about.

Joy of joys !



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Again I've made slow but forward moving progress in recommissioning Hovis. After sealing the tank and ordering new cork seals for the fuel taps and wire mesh to make new fuel filters, I thought I might try to clean up a couple of the old filters . . 



^ This is what I have in fuel taps and filters. The ones across the bottom are the later Hexagonal type, the bottom one is from Nudge. It's in good order but tends to seep when the tap is opened, so I need to fit it with new cork seals.  The gauze filters to these are part of the 3/8 - 1/4" adapter, as seen to the right of the photo. Aside from those two having chewed up heads (due to their being a really odd size) they are totally gummed up.  No air can be blown or sucked through, let alone their allowing petrol to flow.  Although I've ordered new gauze for all those missing or with damaged filters, I thought there's no harm in my experimenting with cleaning these very fine gauze meshes.



^ I had tried soaking one in carburettor cleaner, to no effect ..so I tried a little vinegar.  I'd heard about it being acidic enough to clean corrosion off brass but I had no idea whether it needed to be white vinegar or whatever I happened to have in the cupboard.



^ It worked !  ..not only did it clean the gauze of corrosion but it also softened the residue of dried petrol (most likely where old and stale fuel had evaporated away).  On the inside I used a small screwdriver gently scraping across the copper gauze to lift the worse of the residue before dropping it back into the vinegar to clean the gauze well. 


From a state of being like hardened tar and totally blocking the filter, the same filter can now take the full flow of a kitchen tap. I'm impressed :)

- - -


Moving on ..to wiring  / electrics . .


Firstly I fitted the dynamo, which is fastened to the front of the engine. .



^  The dynamo's stator (..windings inside the cylindrical case) is attached to the crankcase by two long screws, with a gasket to keep out road dirt and moisture. The dynamo's armature has a single bolt (left handed thread) into the end of the crankshaft. There's a dowel pin to prevent it from rotating relative to the crank.. Typically clever of Earling Poope, the engine's designer - the dynamo needed no auxiliary drive, nor adjustments, nor even a bearing ..because the crankshaft itself has a main bearing and oil seal. And then there's an o-ring to seal it's cover. Very simply but effective, despite it being being situated immediately behind the front wheel - it stays dry and works very reliably. 


Because just two long screws hold the stator on, I lightly mark where their hole is tapped into the crankcase (red arrow).  And, once the long screws are loosely fitted, I mark the extremities of how far I can lightly twist the stator in either direction (x2 blue arrows).  Then I tighten the fixing screws with crankcase marking midway between the marks on the stator. In this way I know the stator fixing screws are clamping the stator nice and square to the crankcase.  If this is not done then the stator tends to rotate and, as the square-to length is shorter, the stator works loose .. and subsequently rubs against the armature.     

- - -


I then refitted the electrical boxes (situated under the seat) and set to checking and where required 'restoring' and altering the wiring loom . . 



^ having owned a number of Sunbeams and having recommissioned other people's bikes, I'm quite used to these bike's wiring, what are the common faults and therefore how things may be improved . .




^ As it was.  The wiring loom had been replaced sometime over the past 65 years and now the wrapping is electrical tape rather than fabric. Nevertheless asside from crappy connections it's in good shape.  On these bikes, on the right hand side under the seat, is an electrical box which serves as a junction box for connections and also ought to contain the coil, charging regulator, the combined ignition and light switch, and an ammeter. Backing onto this, on the Left hand side of the bike is the battery box.


The first thing I did was to remove loose wire-bindings and clean inside the box, including the slimy sticky residue of old electrical tape.   Next I started to identify what wire was supposed to go to what. It really isn't that difficult on such a simple bike, without starter motor, indicators, or many warning sensors. And as I'd taken the coil and regulator out myself  (..which I'd 'borrowed' to help identify and rectify faults on another bikes) the connections to those were still obvious. Although most did work - it doesn't mean they were correct.  For example the voltage regulator connections . .



^ on this bike Lucas-type bullet connectors had been soldered onto the wires to the regulator. However the holes in the regulator are of a bigger size because the original connector fittings were thimbles with the wires poking through and turned back on themselves.  Above, I've unsoldered the wires, drilled out the bullet connectors (2.5mm holes) and threaded the bare wires through the hole and then turn those back on themselves like the original connectors had been. This is a tighter fit and so makes a very much more reliable electrical contact.  



^ the regulators connections are held in place with a screw (there should be two) through a steel plate and tufnol insulator. They are quite secure.  You might also note ; I've redrilled the regulator's mounting base plates. Although this is an original type regulator, it is too tall for where it mounts. The screw which closes and locks the lid of the electrical box hits it. So re-drilling those holes moves the regulator a little lower in the box ..to clear that screw. .



^ work in progress with the coil fitted and with the regulator lowered to clear the door's screw. But still you can see the left hand bolt from above is too long to get the regulator's cover on.  The other (right hand) bolt from above is where the earth strap connects to the bike's frame, so that is deliberately long. The wires to the regulator are now behind it.


The coil is a replacement and much smaller than the original one so there was space to lower the regulator.  I've also mounted the coil in a rubber padded P-bracket ..rather than the original solid mounting saddle type bracket. 



^ Much tidier and more secure than before.  Spare bulb holders are a nice touch :) 


The wire's outer sleeve / binding is not just to look tidy - but also serves to help prevent chafe (caused by vibration as the bike is ridden) and to help keep moisture out, therefore it is to protect and improve electrical insulation. Wires have been altered to length and a couple of wires have been reallocated. The horn and brake-light switch were previously (originally) always live. I don't like live wires to outside connections, and I've had experience of the brake light not always turning off, so I change these to be live only when the ignition is switched on.


I've also reallocated a red / white wire from the light switch to the speedo's illumination lamp. It is now being used for the horn-live wire (to the handlebar button). The speedo's light is now taken as a spur off the headlamp's side light.  And the horn's original wire, which was black, is now used from the headlamp and headlamp shell to the electrical box's frame earth.  Originally the earth from the headlamp relied on returning through the steering-head bearings or through the speedo cable, clutch or throttle cable ! Now it has a wire :)


I've also take an earth lead to the gearbox casing (and therefore the engine block). Originally, because the engine is rubber mounted - its only earth was through the control cables or speedo drive.!  There are a number of other minor changes / improvements but I'll not bore you with every such detail. 


Moving on to the headlamp shell . .   



^ As it was.  As is usual on motorcycles the other junction box for electrics is in the headlamp shell. 



^ Again tidier and more secure than before. The two warning lights are for ignition and low oil pressure. Behind these is the speedo.  Aside from the wiring mod's - made in line with those previously mentioned, I've added soldered connectors where there were none, and changed other connectors to an appropriate size.


^ This is the inside connections of a Wipac headlamp switch. It's not an original part but I've come across it before. On this bike two of the four wires had pulled out, and as you can see they are pretty tiny and very closely spaced together ..for my size of fingers to reconnect !  Three wires of the same colour for the headlamp power, main, and dip wasn't changed, but labels were added inside the headlamps shell. The forth wire is for the horn button, which earths through the handlebars ..to then electrically find its way back through clamps and painted fastenings to the headlamp shell. And from there through the frame to behind the left hand side foot peg.  And some people wonder why their bike's horn doesn't work very well.?


And finally for today's post ..


^ a minor but I think useful change ..besides the steering head. From being spiral wound with electrical tape to a length of unheated heat-shrink. This gives a flat run for the wires through the narrow gap between the frame and the fuel tank, and is better for the wires to flex as the steering head is turned.  I prefer to use velcro instead of cable ties or tape to suspend the wiring loom below the frame, as it doesn't cut in or chafe either the wires or the frame. 


That's all for today, I hope it's been of some interest. ;)



p.s. this bike will be on the market very soon if you know of anyone who might be interested. You'll get an indication of prices from Car&Classics website or ebay.  


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I believe toe-in is correct. It would make sense due to the power being from one side, so the toe-in geometry would help counter the thrust.

I don't know about leaning out. Mind you,  I think I've only every ridden a sidecar bike once - so am not really the man to ask, but I do know someone with Sunbeam S8 sidecar outfit ..so could ask him when the time comes.

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I think the bike is bracketed to lean away from the sidecar so that the fork castor action compensates for the drag of the chair when running straight without power.  As soon as power is applied, steering correction is required (for a UK chair, steer to the right) and, with an unbraked chair, the opposite correction is required to keep straight when braking.  Once underway and familiar with their asymmetric  handling characteristics these effects are used to aid cornering.  I had a Jawa 350 with a sidecar as my daily driver for a year or two.  


Edit: Checking on-line mentions the sidecar axle being ahead of the rear axle of the bike and the sidecar arranged to have slight toe-in as well as the bike leaning away from the sidecar.  I corrected my wording above as well.

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Yes Thanks,  leaning the bike out slightly does make sense to correct the drag of an appendage on one side.  I'd never thought about it before so I'm learning here :)

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Hijack alert!   No problem to me., as long as we sorta keep to 'classic' type machinery 


Recently bought a bike with alloy cases not lacquered as I've always had before. Any tips for the best way to keep them clean?


Alloy cases which had not been lacquered from new were probably made as a sand casting ..rather than the Japanese, Italian, and mass production preference for pressure die-cast. The composition of the aluminium alloy is different and in most cases (no pun intended) sand castings don't corrode in normal atmospheric conditions anyway nearly as badly, nor does the corrosion go deep into the metal.  But like copper, brass and lead, it forms its own oxide layer which protects it.


So., non-lacquered alloy cases simply need polishing (yes, I do recognise the word 'polish' might be frowned upon on this forum ;) ).  Bikes used in winter months, when salt used to be spread over the roads to help prevent their icing, were commonly wiped over with a smear of clean engine oil or a light grease (NB. used engine oil contains acids so shouldn't be used).  This oil coating would be washed off every so often, taking the accumulated dirt with it ..and a fresh oil wipe applied.  The same was done on the chrome parts, the wheels, and bare metal nuts and bolts.  In the context of owners relying on motorcycles to get to work and earn a livelihood - it was necessary.. so part n' parcel of weekly vehicle maintenance, just as much as oiling the chain or greasing anything which rotated or slid.


Come the sunny months of summer, those cases would simply be cleaned off and after being cut back to a shine with Solvol Autosol and would be polished (hard polish is best rather than a cream or spray polish).    


Hope that helps :)


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