1940 Matchless G3 WD Rebuild

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by JagLite, Feb 26, 2019.

  1. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

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    It is time to start a new build thread for an old bike, a 79 YEAR old bike that was built for the British War Department and shipped to Africa to serve as a Dispatch Rider (DR) mount for the war effort.

    It looked similar to this bike when new:

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    (Pics from the net)

    I am not restoring the bike to as new condition, it is going to be a survivor with a mechanical rebuild so I can putt around on it after work.

    So, let's get started.

    As I bought it:

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    Loaded up and brought home to the SPD (Special Projects Designs) mythical shop.

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    A true "basket case" bike project

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    Boxes, bins, and piles of parts...

    I bought it last winter and it sat for the summer while I spent my limited time riding.
    Then this fall I finished my Honda XR200RM pit bike project before starting on the Matchless.

    December of 2018 I put the Matchless on the build table to start putting Humpty Dumpty back together:

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    I have a clipboard for each project to write down what needs doing, what needs ordering, what needs to be repaired, modified, or replaced.
    I really like crossing things off on my list to see the progress. :wings

    Here is the Matchless list:

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    I didn't know where to start with the list since it needs everything!

    First thing was to organize the parts to be able to go through them:

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    The previous owner (PO) bought it complete but planned to restore it to factory new condition so he took it all apart, then started buying parts for it.
    New parts, NOS parts (New Old Stock), and used parts.
    He sent the bottom end of the engine out to be professionally rebuilt in 2018 then had to move outside so he put his bike projects on CL.
    He said every part is there to build the bike, all the original parts as well as many duplicate used or NOS parts.

    He used nice storage bins for the small stuff, and even labeled a couple of the boxes "Gearbox" and "Engine".

    Unfortunately, that is as far as the identification of parts went, and as I quickly found out, he mixed parts to put things where they fit, or for some other unknown reasons.
    I can't count on any box containing the parts for the gearbox or engine.
    The steering head ball bearings were in the "engine" box for example.

    Good fun, eh?

    I started by assembling the forks:

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    I found a box with most of the fork parts in it:

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    Hmmm, I wonder how these are supposed to fit together?

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    That was probably 8 hours of fiddling, searching online, trying fitting things to what seemed correct, and more trials and errors.
    More errors that is. :D

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    My first experience with girder forks. :hmmmmm

    Now to get it on its own feet, first I checked the wheels which were surprisingly straight

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    Oops, time to get to work now...
    To be continued :wave
    #1
  2. Wildebeest90210

    Wildebeest90210 Long timer Supporter

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    About time too! :lurk
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  3. Neil E.

    Neil E. Been here awhile

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    Nice project. Be very careful of the spoke nipple tension, particularily on the front hub. It's very easy to break those cast iron hubs. It looks like manuals are readily available for these motorcycles. A little investigation shows that Matchless made 80,000 of the G3/G3L machines for the armed forces in WW2.
    #3
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  4. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    Good to see you building again! Wished I could say the same but I've been spending my spare time working on other people's motorcycles. It goes without saying but I'll say it anyway... no Tiny Techs? :hmmmmm Regardless, I'll be following along for sure. :*sip*
    #4
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  5. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

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    Lunchtime!

    Now I can post some more progress pictures:

    It took several assemblies to figure out the purpose of the slot on two long bolts (Spindles in merry olde) and where it goes.
    One locates the fork dampener (just tension on the steel and leather discs) and one for the steering stem.
    The Girder Fork information I found online is generic, not specific to this bike so it took that trial and error to figure it all out.

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    The spindles are threaded both ends, with a hex stop nut formed in it.
    The picture above shows the spindle with integral stop nut with thick washer that goes on the outside of the fork leg and the nut that is on there bolts the fork link on.
    The other end of this spindle threads into the link on the other side which then has a lock nut on it.
    That means that both upper and lower, and/or front and back spindles have to be removed to the links on this end.
    I know that because of how many times I put it together and took it back apart to figure that out.

    The generic girder fork information I have shows bushings in the fork spindle castings but there are no bushings in these, and no room to put them:

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    I've been posting on the Matchless/AJS forum in England to get any help and they said there are no bushings in the girder forks Matchless used.
    Did you know that Matchless was the first manufacturer to equip their bikes with telescopic forks?
    Yep, in 1940, just after this bike was built.
    It took years for other manufacturers to catch up in the long travel suspension field.
    That's one reason many (most?) DS riders preferred the Matchless over the other bikes available.

    I had to clean every thread to be able to bolt these together so I used this handy little tool:

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    I don't have taps and dies for the old British threads and they don't match anything else of course.

    And I don't have a set of Whitworth wrenches and sockets yet so I make do with the tool kit that came with the bike:

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    It is missing a few wrenches and a couple specialty tools but it is neat to have an original!
    That brass tube in the middle is the grease gun. :thumb
    A necessity for a Britbike, eh? :fpalm

    I found the tool kit, in the tool box along with this tag:

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    This tells that the bike was overhauled in October 1953 when it was sold from the military to the civilian life.
    That's another neat find.

    While sorting through the boxes, bins, and tub looking at parts I found that I have 4 pistons:

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    That is 4 pistons that are for the G3, there is also a pair of pistons, new in box, for an AJS twin:

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    I dropped the cylinder that I am using off at the machine shop along with the 4 pistons to see what will work.
    Dave at ADB (Alaska Drag Bike) the best local machine shop, measured them up and found that the cylinder is excellent and the original piston is still the stock bore.
    But the clearance is right at maximum before requiring a bore and larger piston.
    I decided to have him bore it out to fit the +040 piston for good compression.

    Speaking of cylinders, I mentioned I took the cylinder I am using to the shop, that's because the bike came with 4 (!) cylinders.

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    I am using the one on the bottom right of the picture above.
    The upper right corner is an NOS part still in the original preservative coating gunk and wax paper wrapping.
    The other two cylinders are both usable used pieces.

    While searching through parts I realized that many will need to be painted because the PO had polished or stripped the paint off, like the front fender:

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    Oil tank:

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    Second tool box:

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    The Engine tin:
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    And other small parts.

    Decision time, do I try to match the old, neat patina paint or repaint everything to match?
    That is the question... :confused

    While I let you ponder what you would do...

    Here are the pistons for your education:

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    Notice the holes in the sides and the slot?

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    Notice the skirt is only attached to the crown around the wrist pin boss. :yikes

    That was the way they dealt with the different expansion speed and amount with an aluminum piston in a cast iron cylinder.
    I had never seen a piston like that before but Dave at ADB said it is common on old engines, everyone was trying different ways to keep the pistons from seizing.

    One piston has no slot, no cutouts, just a regular full skirt design.
    That is the Matchless "Competition" piston.
    I am using the standard version holy piston for this build. :thumb

    Lunchtime is over, back to work!

    To be continued... :hide
    #5
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  6. Jim K in PA

    Jim K in PA Long timer Supporter

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    Very cool project. Looking forward to watching it assemble itself. :lol3

    I don't mean to be mean by pointing this out, but Matchless was not the first manufacturer to introduce telescopic forks. BMW started using telescopic forks in 1935 in the R12 and R17, and Nimbus in 1934.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telescopic_fork

    [​IMG]
    #6
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  7. Honda-50

    Honda-50 Vet Lurker

    Joined:
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    Paint ? - Malta camouflage . . . .
    6a14701e137402d03c2fbd59eb8fe039.jpg
    #7
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  8. AZ Pete

    AZ Pete Been here awhile

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    very cool project!
    #8
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  9. BeezaJohn

    BeezaJohn Been here awhile

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    This will be good :lurk
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  10. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

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    Oh-ho!
    I sit corrected sir!
    I will have to re-read the info I read, maybe it said they were the first British manufacturer and I missed that?
    My humble apologies for inaccuracy. :shog
    It's easy to apologize for a mistake since I do it all day long.... :fpalm
    #10
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  11. Vince

    Vince Long timer

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    Love that shifting spanner in the tool kit, I found a top quality finely adjustable 6-inch shifter and mainly used that on my old Triumphs. You need so many different spanner types I just gave up in the end. Found any 26 TPI cycle thread yet.
    #11
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  12. Snapper33

    Snapper33 Globetrotter Supporter

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    Very cool project. It’s a whole different route doing a basket case. Watching will be fun.
    #12
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  13. motu

    motu Loose Pre Unit

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    The AMC twins used a wire wound piston...well, the 500 did anyway. Looking forward to this.

    Regardless of the nitpicking, AMC was the leader in suspension technology, they were the first (jump in nitpickers) with the swingarm too. You can dream, your G3 has no fancy suspension at all !
    #13
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  14. Jim K in PA

    Jim K in PA Long timer Supporter

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    Apologies are unnecessary. :beer

    But more pictures are!

    I think you are correct regarding the British bike industry adoption of telescopic forks being led by Matchless and AJS. But I'm just a plebeian kraut bike guy, so am probably wrong too! :lol3
    #14
  15. Fast Idle

    Fast Idle Since the Sixties Supporter

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    Hey Jag, cool project!
    Paint?
    You might consider using Rustoleum oil based enamel. I would guess it's oil based paint that's on there now. It's available in pints and quarts, flat, satin, or gloss. And you can get it at Walmart. Pretty sure you could buy some in sand, green, black, white, what ever you needed to mix a close match to what you have. You could keep the patina and paint the bare parts. If your color was off slightly it probably would not matter or you could add camo highlights to the existing parts to tie it all together. The paint is extremely durable and would surely look the part. Brush on or thin with acetone and spray it.

    We have an old eye-sore, multi-color rust bucket blazer plow truck. Decided to camouflage it years back. The wife and I painted it hunter green with a brush and roller. Then sprayed camo colors in brown, white, black, and a couple shades of green. Just mixed variations of those four colors and kept spraying. It looks great, or should I say now we don't have to look at the ugly old thing anymore. It just blends in.
    I'll post a picture after day light
    #15
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  16. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

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    I like the Malta Camo paint scheme!

    I have a couple pictures off the net of it and really like this stamp:

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    Some random pictures of the project and parts:

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    Here is the rebuilt bottom end of the engine:

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    In case I need a spoke or two:

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    Hmmm, I wonder what these are and where they go? :scratch

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    Some parts I can identify:

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    New chains all around! :ricky

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    Some new nuts, bolts, and studs... wish I knew where they go :hmmmmm

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    Several guide books too:

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    When things get dark I will use these:

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    I think the bike uses 3 light bulbs...

    And when I need a new spark plug I will be ready:

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    There are 43 (yes, 43!) new spark plugs in that box.

    Well, it is time to start work so that's all for now :wave
    #16
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  17. Fast Idle

    Fast Idle Since the Sixties Supporter

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    Wow, you certainly have your work cut out for you!
    Should be really cool when you get it done.
    I know you'll enjoy building this one.
    :lurk
    #17
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  18. Vince

    Vince Long timer

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    If you're lucky you will have no parts left over in the end, but not here, what a jigsaw puzzle.
    #18
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  19. BeezaJohn

    BeezaJohn Been here awhile

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    What a score, looks like whenever the previous owner ordered parts he bought an extra couple of spares, I have never seen a dismantled bike
    so organised. There is some Matchless G3 info on the BSA WM20 Forum just search Matchless G3, think the original finish would have been
    sprayed on but its up to you as bush painting was done during its service, love the tool kit.
    http://www.wdbsa.nl/
    John
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  20. usgser

    usgser Long timer

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    Wow, very cool project. Great you've got the time patience to get it running right so you can enjoy/ride the fruits of your labor rather than flipping it!
    I'm an old fart and love the old logical engineering that worked well in the era. If your paint is solid enough where it's not exposing bare sheetmetal, please don't repaint it. The original 70+ years patina was hard EARNED and should remain intact as long as possible. Just my opinion. Have fun!
    #20
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