Reliving my youth: 1967 Greeves Challenger MX5

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by Owyhee, Oct 10, 2009.

  1. Owyhee

    Owyhee Ran when parked

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    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.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    "O"
    #1
  2. England-Kev

    England-Kev Long timer

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  3. jeep44

    jeep44 junk collector

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    I'd say you scored big time.:clap
    #3
  4. notarex

    notarex Can U taste the waste?

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    Leading link Greeves are :drif :drif
    #4
  5. Owyhee

    Owyhee Ran when parked

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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"
    #5
  6. England-Kev

    England-Kev Long timer

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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..
    #6
  7. anonny

    anonny What could go wrong?

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    or bust t apart and have a good look around, I gotta believe at least 1 bearing needs replacing :D

    Cool project.
    #7
  8. Xcuvator

    Xcuvator Justa Venturer

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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.
    #8
  9. Owyhee

    Owyhee Ran when parked

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    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.
    [​IMG]

    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.
    [​IMG]

    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.
    [​IMG]

    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.
    [​IMG]
    "O"
    #9
  10. Owyhee

    Owyhee Ran when parked

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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"
    #10
  11. crazydrummerdude

    crazydrummerdude Wacky Bongo Boy

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    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.
    #11
  12. Owyhee

    Owyhee Ran when parked

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    A year and no budge? That's pretty much what I'm looking at.

    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"
    #12
  13. crazydrummerdude

    crazydrummerdude Wacky Bongo Boy

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    Yep. It's one of these:
    [​IMG]

    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.
    #13
  14. Owyhee

    Owyhee Ran when parked

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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.

    [​IMG]

    "O"
    #14
  15. Owyhee

    Owyhee Ran when parked

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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 :lol3
    [​IMG]


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

    "O"
    #15
  16. El Hombre

    El Hombre Banned

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    http://www.lortim.demon.co.uk/vsih/cranksha.htm


    That's the link to rebuilding the alpha crank in your beast.

    If the metal is pitted, you can have it plasma sprayed. It's like spraying on a couple of thousands of new metal, hard as all get out. I used to work at a Ford plant. They sent out the pinion gears that were ground undersize where the bearings mounted, to a plasma shop.

    When they came back, a 4 foot diameter grinding wheel had to be diamond dressed every 3 pieces when it was plasma. Normal steel would take 25 parts before they had to dress the wheel.

    Take a good look at the bottom of the engine for the clutch arm. From the picture of the clutch, the star shaped part with the dimple in the middle is where I think the push rod is shoving the clutch out of engagement.

    Or maybe you have the rarest of beasts and it's a automatic transmission; like my Husky.:D


    Neat old bike, not something you see every day; or every decade. I can't ever remember seeing one.
    #16
  17. Owyhee

    Owyhee Ran when parked

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    I haven't been working on the Greeves much lately with traveling for work, the holidays, the crap weather, and my rediscovery of scotch.

    Anyhoo, the engine is out. I'd never seen a 16mm bolt before. Or, honestly, a 13mm bolt. The Greeves is full of odd sized fasteners.


    [​IMG]
    The back rim was a mess with rust over pockmarks in the chrome. About four hours of careful scrubbing removed the bulk of the scuzz and revealed the chrome isn't just pitted, it's thin in spots. A show winning bike would have a rechromed rim; I'll end up just running it as is.


    [​IMG]
    Front view of the bike. It took about two hours to get the motor out. The hardest part of removing the engine (aside from the fact I have no 16mm socket) was that the mounting bolts were obscured by fossilized mung and spoo and were invisible. Some amateur archeology helped find the bolts under 40 years of crud.


    [​IMG]
    Six bolts where buried in this crap. Not only were the bolts covered but it was impossible to get the socket around the bolt head with the dirt caked all over the points.


    [​IMG]
    Tomorrow the engine and various other parts are going into the parts washer at work. The piston is the first oversize and marked 0.010".

    Thanks everyone for the info on plasma spray for crank repair. I'm in the middle of talking to local folks about making it happen. It looks like a $200-$300 job.

    As I'll be gone again for three more weeks I'll put the bike back in its corner of the garage and get another crack at it in February.


    "O"
    #17
  18. Blakebird

    Blakebird r-u-n-n-o-f-t

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  19. jeep44

    jeep44 junk collector

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    Are those really metric bolts? I would think that bike would be Whitworth thread,but I've never had a Greeves,either.
    #19
  20. Owyhee

    Owyhee Ran when parked

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    I'm not 100% sure what thread they are but I've heard that the threads are Whitworth. I suppose that the heads are still SAE or metric. There's the usual smattering of 12mm and 14mm heads with a few 13mm and 16mm tossed in there for good measure.

    Luckily, I have a mound of 13mm sockets left over from other socket sets where the often-used sockets get lost/stolen. I've never owned a 16mm socket.

    The engine/pipe/lower frame is getting steam cleaned as I write this.

    "O"
    #20