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Old 10-10-2009, 04:11 PM   #1
Owyhee OP
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Reliving my youth: 1967 Greeves Challenger MX5

The first motorcycle I ever rode was a 1968 Greeves Challenger MX5 (250cc) (Edit: actually it was an Anglian) at some point in the mid 1980s. My memories of that bike are fuzzy but I remember it being huge and heavy with a Herculean clutch pull.

This bike differs a little from the memories of the last one I rode by having a regular carburetor instead of a remote float with a tickle button and a fiberglass tank instead of an aluminum one. The other bike also had a heel and toe shifter. This one has a standard type one.

Having two projects in the garage already (full race XR628R at 5% done and a CR500/XR200/XR600 hybrid at 75% done) I was hesitant to get another bike to clutter up my garage. It seems like I spend about every other year abroad and am bucking for a job in Phnom Penh from 2012-2014; who knows when this will get done.

When this bike showed up on Craigslist I was both amazed that something like this made an appearance in Boise, but also the price. Advertised at $500 I bought it for $400. I probably could have gotten it for less but I was slightly intimated by the 1%er Harley guy selling it.

The bike is in fine shape for 42 years old. My guess is that is hasn't run since Reagan's first term judging by how fossilized the rubber parts and tires are. The transmission (right side shift, 4 speed) shifts through all the gears with a solid mechanical snick. The engine is frozen; I'm guessing the rings are rusted solid. The carburetor (a tiny Amal) is also frozen solid.

The rest of the bike is in good shape with the frame having rust only where the paint is chipped off and the fiberglass airbox and gas tank are solid. The rims are only slightly rusty and both brakes work. Every cable needs replacement and the electrics look sketchy.

Plans for the bike are to make it into a vintage MXer. Boise has an active vintage MX scene and if memory serves someone else races a Challenger in the series.

I'll update this thread as I restore the bike. If you have Greeves stories or information, please post them here. Also, if you have Greeves parts sitting in some far corner of your garage give a holler, I may be interested in them.

Pictures of its first day at its new home with Marvel's Mystery Oil in the cylinder to try and free the rings.







"O"

Owyhee screwed with this post 01-08-2010 at 06:17 PM
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Old 10-10-2009, 04:38 PM   #2
England-Kev
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Good score, and what a deal

http://www.greevesmotorcyclesltd.com/

http://www.greeves-riders.org.uk/article.php?id=2

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Old 10-10-2009, 06:26 PM   #3
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I'd say you scored big time.
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Old 10-10-2009, 09:10 PM   #4
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Leading link Greeves are
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Old 10-11-2009, 12:47 PM   #5
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Good news and bad news on my initial foray into the engine: The good news is the cylinder is good with no rust and the piston, while scored, may still be usable. The bad news is that the crank is frozen solid. The connecting rod moves freely at both the crank and the piston but the crankshaft itself is stuck. The crankcase is full of dirt and what looks like old goopy rust.

Sadly, the crankshaft is stuck at TDC so I can't get the barrel off without pulling the engine. On a whim I filled the crankshaft with Marvel's Mystery Oil to see if that could get things freed up, gave it overnight to soak, and gave it my all this morning to see if it would move. Nope.

Part of me is hoping that the problem lies in the primary chain--that it's broken or kinked--but after seeing the inside of the crankcase I'm not holding out much hope.

Pictures to follow.

"O"
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Old 10-11-2009, 03:20 PM   #6
England-Kev
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Undo any drain plugs that you can find, try and get as much of the gloop out as you can, maybe even use a pressure washer to help free it up. Then replace drain plugs, boil some old oil, as hot as you can safely do, and then pour the hot oil into the crank case, drain and repeat..

good luck..
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Old 10-11-2009, 07:41 PM   #7
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or bust t apart and have a good look around, I gotta believe at least 1 bearing needs replacing

Cool project.
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Old 10-11-2009, 10:26 PM   #8
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Really cool, you did good.
I haven't tried this but I have heard that Pepsi or Coke will loosen up a rust frozen engine. But if your bearings froze because of lack of lube, then I doubt they would help.
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:39 PM   #9
Owyhee OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by England-Kev
Undo any drain plugs that you can find, try and get as much of the gloop out as you can, maybe even use a pressure washer to help free it up. Then replace drain plugs, boil some old oil, as hot as you can safely do, and then pour the hot oil into the crank case, drain and repeat..

good luck..
I'd thought about using the hot oil treatment but figured at this stage it's too messy since there's no drain plug on the crank and I'd have to turn the engine upside down to drain it.

I've given up any hope trying to free the engine without complete disassembly and rebuild. The bearings are rusted solid for sure; I'm hoping the crank is useable.

I took the carb apart and the float was full of fluffy orange powder. I'm not sure what that was. The hinge for the float needle was missing. Steel adjuster knobs are rusted and/or fused. The slide and needle look okay. The float looks okay. I'm going to investigate whether a modern Mikuni is "legal" for vintage MX.

So, here's what I must replace:
1) Every cable
2) Clutch plates (both drivers and drivens)
3) Carburetor (I think it'd be cheaper to buy a used Amal or Mikuni than to rebuild the stock carb
4) Crank bearings
5) Piston and rings
6) All ignition components (the spark plug lead is missing, among other things)
7) All gaskets
8) Cush drive triangles (I'm 75% sure it has a cush drive)
9) Possibly the primary chain, the crank,
10) Seat (don't have one yet).

Pictures from tonite:

Here's the primary cover and carb. The primary was empty aside from a splash of dirty water and a smear of mud. The gasket was rotten and falling apart but didn't leak.


Cylinder wall and piston look pretty good. I'm sure the rings were stuck where that band of rust is right around the ports. I'm hoping the cylinder is in shape for just a hone rather than an overbore.


Here's the primary chain and clutch. The primary chain seems to be a bit slack but I'm not sure what "correct" looks like. Also, can someone tell me how that clutch works? There's no actuating lever on the outside of the case and no way to make the clutch operate "normally." Is the clutch operated from a shaft coming from the transmission side? I'm totally baffled.


Here's the cylinder pulled up to show the red Marvel's Mystery Oil trying in vain to free the crank bearings. Oddly, after sitting for almost two days nothing leaked past the crankshaft's gaskets.

"O"
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Old 10-14-2009, 09:53 AM   #10
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I haven't had a chance to do anything with the bike other than rock the back tire from time to time in hopes that the crank freed up (no luck) and think about restoration.

The bike has the original color (probably the original paint too by the looks of things) but I'm thinking of something non-original, something British Racing Green with brushed alumnium hubs, fenders, and engine bits. Am I committing some sort of travesty here by going "non-original?"

Also, this week is also "title application" week. According to the DMV the bike has never been titled or licenced in any state so I can apply for a "conditional" title that has a three year sunset and not a "bonded" title which would have cost three times the value of the bike in a bond also with a three year sunset.

Wish me luck.

"O"
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:45 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Owyhee
Here's the cylinder pulled up to show the red Marvel's Mystery Oil trying in vain to free the crank bearings.
We have an antique stationary engine with a seized piston that we've had ATF under pressure in the chamber for probably a year now, and it's still seized.

If you can take the block apart, just do it. Don't bother trying to bump the rear wheel to free the crank.
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:55 AM   #12
Owyhee OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazydrummerdude
We have an antique stationary engine with a seized piston that we've had ATF under pressure in the chamber for probably a year now, and it's still seized.
A year and no budge? That's pretty much what I'm looking at.

Quote:
If you can take the block apart, just do it. Don't bother trying to bump the rear wheel to free the crank.
That's pretty much where I am now. Regardless of whether the crank freed up I was going to replace the bearings. I think the crank bearings are roller bearings and not as resistant to abuse as ball bearings. All that said, bearings that move make pulling the crankshaft apart that much easier.

Before I tear into the engine I need a manual. There's just too much I can't figure out on my own mechanically (how the clutch works, how oil moves from the gearbox to the primary chain, what the bore limits are, etc). I can, however, strip/paint/shine.

Thanks for the info.

"O"
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Old 10-14-2009, 12:17 PM   #13
crazydrummerdude
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Owyhee
A year and no budge?
Yep. It's one of these:


It's been taken completely down to the block (couple hundred pounds), and recently my brother lifted it up by the connecting rod with a ceiling hoist, and it still didn't even budge. So, back to the corner and filled with ATF.
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Old 10-18-2009, 10:10 PM   #14
Owyhee OP
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Greeves update:

Tomorrow is DMV/Title day assuming it's not raining. There's no sense in dragging the bike around town in the rain for a VIN inspection if I can wait for a drier day.

Good news: The rims are not only salvageable, but the front is extraordinary! It shines up wonderfully and there's little rust. The back rim has a bit of surface rust but it's nothing a little muscle can't take out.

The rims are stamped , "trade DUNLOP mark Made In England." How cool is that?

I tried shining up the hubs too but since they came unshined from the factory I may just leave 'em that way.



"O"
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Old 11-21-2009, 03:00 PM   #15
Owyhee OP
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Update: Conditional title secured.

Crank still frozen. A conversation with the Greeves guy in Cali revealed that there are no more new/useable MX250 cranks left on Earth. He suggested I hope that mine is salvageable. It seems that the Greeves uses the crank ends as the crank bearing's (roller) inner race. One the rollers get rusty they fuse to the crank and leave the crank end pitted and unusable.

Many of the original fasteners are still on the bike. Bolt heads are marked with "RGP 5."

The back brake shoes have about 50% of their life left.

The back wheel bearings were still well greased and spin perfectly.

It has a cush drive? The cush drive and steel sprocket weigh about 10lbs



An hour on the wire wheel cleaned up the back axle and the rear brake arm (not pictured) really well.


"O"
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