Adding a Watsonian Grand Prix Classic to a 2007 Triumph Bonneville

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by propforward, Mar 29, 2020.

  1. propforward

    propforward PIE!romaniac

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    Greetings! I thought I would post some pictures and notes on my install of a Watsonian Squire Grand Prix Classic side car on a 2007 Triumph Bonneville Black (as it was known at the time). It serves to show how I performed the installation, as someone who has never installed or set up a side car before. I have ridden many texts on the subject, and I have in mind a procedure for the alignment which will become apparent in due course.

    I bought the Triumph brand new in 2007, and it now has about 45,000 miles on it, and is going strong. It has had some modifications over the years, but with the acquisition of some other bikes was not getting ridden as much. After a nasty accident in 2016, I haven't been riding so much because my left leg isn't very flexible, making putting my foot down a bit awkward. Last year I tried riding a Suzuki GS850G with a Spirit Eagle sidecar on it, and really enjoyed it, so I thought that this might be a way to get back in the saddle and get the Bonneville back in use.

    That's the back story! TL;DR.

    Anyway, after looking around at the various side car options, and after trying to find a Hedingham to no avail (someone even tried to scam me :bluduh, but at least I didn't get taken in by that), I settled on a Watsonian Grand Prix Classic. From an aesthetics standpoint I would really have liked a Meteor, those are just beautiful, but I decided would be too small for the wife.

    Decision made, money parted with, and in due course the side car showed up, very nicely crated. The following pics I already posted, but are here for completeness to show you how it is packaged.

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    I ordered the side car with a fitting kit made to suit my year of Bonneville, to try and make installation easier, and avoid making custom brackets - although I have the wherewithall to do that if necessary.
    #1
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  2. davet2

    davet2 Been here awhile Supporter

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    How long did it take to get the sidecar from order to delivery? I bought a frame from Lak sidecars in the Netherlands and it took about 4 or 5 months if I remember correctly.
    #2
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  3. propforward

    propforward PIE!romaniac

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    On to the bike - obviously with tank and seat removed while I do the work.

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    First task is to attach the four mounting brackets to the bike from. 3 of them are simple clamp on brackets, and the fourth is a custom item that mounts to the right side footpeg mount and the centerstand mounting.

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    There is a spacer that mounts between the two centerstand mounting brackets for extra strength:

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    The individual parts for this:

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    There are two spacers that fit on the footpeg mount:

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    The tubular spacer fits perfectly between the centerstand brackets, but unfortunately I did run into a fitment issue of the custom bracket. It's difficult to see here, but the hole center on the bracket does not match up with the centerstand bracket.

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    So I slotted it both ends. I have some machine tools, so no problem. This could still be accomplished easily enough with simple hand tools.

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    That got the bracket to fit fine, and the only other issue on it was that the eye bolt is too long.

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    No big deal - cut it to length. I get that it's easier to have only one style of eye bolt and just trim one down to suit. Trying to stock a multitude of different eye bolt lengths is unnecessary work really.

    I am a little concerned about clearance of the drive chain and the bracket, but I'll check that again once install is done. Obviously once the suspension is compressed there will be even more clearance, and in maximum extended position the chain does clear.

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    This is the upper rear mounting. There is a potential interference with the side cover, but I won't know for sure until the sidecar is actually attached, as it may alter the exact positioning of the bracket.

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    That's as far as I got with fittings yesterday, and I find I did not take enough pictures of the other mounts, so I'll get more today.

    In the meantime, I put the wheel on and started jacking up the chair in readiness for fitting.

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    That's where I'm at, more today I hope. Fried egg sandwich first, then shed. :thumb
    #3
  4. propforward

    propforward PIE!romaniac

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    32 weeks. A long time - but there it is. I wasn't too worried about that since we were in the depths of winter.

    Edit: That said I kept giving them grief about it, but polite grief.
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  5. davet2

    davet2 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Good luck with the installation, looks like you're moving pretty fast already.
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  6. Ajacks

    Ajacks "Not in the face"

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    72E7A86D-2204-4BBC-BDD5-03341768284E.jpeg I got the Meteor, you’re right it’s very small. Maybe a 120lb human, but perfect for Lucy
    #6
  7. propforward

    propforward PIE!romaniac

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    I'm jealous of that rig every time I see it. It was actually some posts you made in a thread last year (forget which one) that made me realize that sidecar was not going to work for us. But no matter!
    #7
  8. propforward

    propforward PIE!romaniac

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    Well, didn't go as well as I hoped today. I thought I had toe in, wheel lead and lean out all balanced nicely, but when I started cinching things up it was really obvious that my toe in had somehow become a massive amount of toe out. Never mind, this is my first go. I've got a better idea in mind for lining up which I'll try next weekend. For now, here are some more pics of the bits and pieces and where I got to.

    You get two of these, to attach arms to the upper sidecar eye bolts. I pried them open a little more so that they slide easily on the attachment arms during set up.

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    These are the four attachment arms that came with the fitting kit, and one right angle block mount (you get two).

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    The paint is good and thick, but that does mean it needs cleaning out of the clevis so that it slides easily over the eyebolts.

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    Position for front upper mount on frame:

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    Position of lower front mount. I think Watsonian recommend putting it a bit further forward, but I have a fitting on my crossover pipe for an O2 sensor from when I was setting up the carburettors that gets in the way. This seems a decent spot though.

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    Side shot so that you can see all the mounting points (and all the dirt. :bluduh - flash makes it look worse than it is, but it's clearly time to flush the brakes as well).

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    I started off by raising the side car, and getting the wheel properly vertical, with the chair level side to side and nose slightly up.

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    So I moved the bike along side. I've always felt that rug really ties the shed together.

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    I started off by setting wheel lead to about 9" (15% of wheel base), based on various texts. I used a nice piece of aluminum bar at right angles to the side car wheel to establish that.

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    I used a spirit level to figure out how to block the sidestand to get to the right lean out. Lean out is not correct in this pic, it's just illustrative.

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    Then did some dry fitting to see how the struts looked.

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    There then ensued a right kerfuffle while I arsed around trying to get the toe in. I thought I had it, but when I stood back it became apparent that I was way off. I was also out of time. Not to worry though, this is my first go at it. I made everything safe (so the bike couldn't fall, and the side car jacks were lowered and the chair made stable), and I will return to it next weekend. I think I have the bike too far from the side car, so I will start again. All part of the experience.
    #8
  9. bpeckm

    bpeckm Grin! Supporter

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    That was my first (inexpert!) thought: wow, pretty far from the bike. Keep on keepin' on though... it's an "interesting" geometrical puzzle to solve!
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  10. FLYING EYEBALL

    FLYING EYEBALL out of step

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    like you said, they look too far apart.

    center of bike rear tire to center of Sidecar tyre probably 55" or less

    and

    if you haven't beefed up the bikes suspension its going to be tough to get it to drive right
    #10
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  11. propforward

    propforward PIE!romaniac

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    The bike does have upgraded shocks and fork springs, but may have to be improved further - but I’ll start with the geometry set up and then go from there.

    Thanks for the 55” dimension - that’s good to know. I will add that reference to my floor markings next weekend for the second attempt. :thumb
    #11
  12. Berardi3

    Berardi3 Been here awhile

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    That looks awesome !!!!!!
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  13. Ajacks

    Ajacks "Not in the face"

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    thank you
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  14. davide

    davide Been here awhile

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    Beautiful combo with timeless look!
    #14
  15. propforward

    propforward PIE!romaniac

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    thanks!

    or did you mean Ajacks?
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  16. Prmurat

    Prmurat Long timer

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    Nice CL450!!
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  17. davide

    davide Been here awhile

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    I don't know what Ajacks means, but I meant that these classic lines never go out of style. For me there is nothing as beautiful as a classic Triumph, old or modern, with a proper British chair attached to it. Your rig is simply perfect in my opinion.
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  18. propforward

    propforward PIE!romaniac

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    I agree. I didn’t know if you were referring to my Bonneville rig or Ajacks Guzzi rig (the green one). Let’s face it, they’re both superb.
    Well his is, and mine will be. :thumb
    #18
  19. davide

    davide Been here awhile

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    Gotcha and, yes, the Guzzi rig is also a very fine specimen!
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  20. propforward

    propforward PIE!romaniac

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    I've been thinking about this set up, and was thinking that using the straight struts on the upper mounts, and curved struts on the lower mounts might be a better arrangement. Lo and behold, I found a thread by Bob Wark of the warkshop today on his fartsbook page, confirming that. Found a good couple of tips there also, so I'll be incorporating those. A big one is to take the tub off and get it out of the way, also reverse one of the chassis mounts. Excited to get back down the shed and have another go.
    #20
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