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Discussion in 'Airheads' started by fxray, Feb 26, 2015.
Loves me some Beezers.
Hi Franque, that's very nice of you to say that, and to mention @JagLite in the same sentence with me, but he is on a whole 'nother level from me with the projects he undertakes (and actually completes!). I share your admiration for his work, as shown in the Some Assembly Required board, and maybe that is where I should be posting. I'm here in Airheads because that's what I started with, I have another one in process, and sometime soon I hope to be back at it. Plus, I am an Airhead. Anyway, if you want to see more of my projects, there is a whole lot here if you go back to page 1 and start slogging through it.
It'll be nice when it's done, though, Pokie. I figure it's good to keep some stuff like that waiting in the wings for the time when the spirit moves you to start in on it.
Hi Disston, I know where you could find one, well it used to be one.
So, when I left off before with this '68 BSA 650 Lightning, I had opened up the front forks to swap in some standard stanchion tubes and replace the seals. Taking a peek at the new tubes I bought last summer showed that they were the wrong ones for this bike. On the package its says, "97-3906 1968-1970 BSA". They are probably right for the 1969-70 bikes, but in 1968, BSA built a one-year-only front suspension. My bike needs a pair of 68-5144 tubes. The parts book calls them out as a "shaft" instead of a tube or a stanchion. Shaft? Could that possibly be a Freudian slip?
Here is some trivia -- if I have my history right, BSA went with damper rod front suspension starting in 1966. This continued through 1968, which is the year I have. However, in 1968 they started using the Triumph TLS front brake. The Triumph front end had a 6.50" span between the sliders, while BSA had 6.75". No problem, they just made the sliders a little different to take up the slack. In the process, the 1968 sliders became unique -- they don't fit any other year of BSA. In 1969, they got rid of the damper rod setup and began using a shuttle valve damping system. Then, of course, in 1971, all hell broke loose and they went with the Oil-In-Frame bikes.
So, the features that this bike shares with the SL350K0 mentioned a couple of posts ago:
One-year-only parts from about 50 years ago
Both are basket cases
Neither has a title
I'm dumb enough to pursue them both
In the damper rod setup, there is supposed to be a steel rod threaded into the underside of the top cap of the stanchion -- the cap that you remove to pour in the oil. Mine were in there, but they weren't doing anything.
When the DPO from long ago decided to chop this bike, and liked the idea of 12" over fork tubes, the damper rods were too short to reach all the way to the top. No problem -- he just dropped them down inside the tubes and let them ride there. What could possibly go wrong with that?
Somewhere along the line, water was introduced. The damper tubes and rods suffered greatly from rust. The first one I took out was nearly one solid piece of crud. I went medieval on it with an angle grinder and cutoff wheel, just to find out what was inside,
The second damper tube was better, but still not usable. Looking on-line, at first it seemed these are unobtainable parts. Turns out they are out there for a price. At least I can exchange the incorrect stanchion tubes that I bought for the correct ones and the same seller has some good, used, damper tube parts. I'll be working that out fairly soon.
Meanwhile, I've picked up the odd part here and there to sort of "flesh out" this old bike. I need to make it look like a viable machine before I can try for a bonded title.
Fuel tanks are still being hand made in India, with mixed reviews. A nice, factory used tank may well go for US $500 to $700. Dented and rusty ones get listed on eBay for $150 to $250.
I recently found one on eBay (US $89.95 shipped) that actually has no dents and includes the cap and center trim piece. It is not the right year, but close enough. I think it is a '67. I have always sort of admired the fuel caps like the one it carries. The '68 cap is more like a BMW Airhead, which I like on my R90, but seems a little bulky for the BSA. This tank has an exotic, asymmetrical paint job, rattle canned with purple, blue and black, on one side only :
The chrome sort of polishes up, but the whole tank has been scuff sanded to try to get paint to stick to it.
I stripped part of the tank on the drive side to see what was under the paint:
. . . and gave the aluminum cap only a light polish:
The bike has a seat now, from a member on BritBike forum, and from another member on there, I thought these pipes looked interesting (his picture of a bike he was parting out):
My idea here is to give this bike the "oily rag" treatment and to buy parts on the cheap that match the "patina level" of what is here already. To this end, I'm going very slowly on any cleanup and polishing. I don't foresee any plating, and minimal painting. I'd like to end up with a mostly correct, numbers-matching, rough but ridable gravel-road-exploring bike.
Oily rag is a valid term. I love the look of original paint showing through surface rust, showing through an oil film. It reminds me of the finish on an old steam locomotive, or an old, well-used British motorcycle.
I did give those header pipes a bath in some de-rusting liquid, along with a very rusted front fender from the same source. I think this bike will have painted fenders, but just rattle can.
I started with one end of these three pieces stuck into that 5-gallon bucket in the picture. After a couple days, I reversed the ends. Then I used an old wallpaper pan to soak the middle.
The pipes look like they have lived a good life, maybe been down a time or two, but they may have a little left to give. They came at a very friendly price.
Finally, another little project this past year was to buy a new computer. It replaced the old Dell that was still running Vista Home Premium, which then went to the work room to replace the Compaq Presario that was still running Win98. That one went to the recycler. I'd had that one since 1999, but it was too slow even for stand-alone use in the work room. The Dell is great for .pdf shop manuals, music, and pictures of what I am trying to reassemble.
So, if you recall the famous self-portrait of Norman Rockwell, showing him painting his self portrait, that once graced the cover of the Saturday Evening Post:
. . . here is a picture of one of my BSA headers cleaned up a bit and posed a la Norman Rockwell with my new (to the work room anyway) computer.
Just for grins, I took a picture of my header pipe leaning on my computer, which was displaying a picture of itself holding up the pipe, and in the picture it was displaying there was a picture of itself again with the pipe. Well, you get the idea. I could have taken it further, but that could go on to, uh . . . infinity (much like this project thread).
I like riding an oily rag. Showing a bit of age but still working to keep it in good running shape. Problem is, I just can't seem to stop myself from slowly making it better and better.
I think your Honda’s May be worth more than your Beemers Ray. Mecum auction.
Yeah, if only mine had an original flying dragon paint set! People seem to go nuts over that.
A few more notes from the rust laboratory. I propped up a wheel from the old Beezer on the work table so that I could scrub on it when I get the notion.
Now, the smart thing to do here would be to measure the wheel offset, cut all the spokes with a bolt cutter, powder coat the hub, buy new spokes from Buchanan, order a new rim from CWC, lace it all up, etc. However, this is the untitled POS parts pile that I am trying to avoid spending any more than the minimum just to make it a piece of floor art. At some point, I will pursue the bonded title.
There's a thread on here somewhere that asks, "What did y'all do with that worthless wheel clamp that came with your Harbor Freight lift?"
I found that mine works pretty well if I just set it on the bench and clamp a wheel in it, creating sort of a tripod. The wheel stays very stable, can be unclamped and rotated easily to a new position, and the whole mess can go back on the shelf when I'm done with it. It doesn't need to be bolted down to do the job.
The rim is cleaning up to a marginal level, but good enough for my goal here. I will need to apply a little bit of "Poor man's chrome" (aka Rustoleum Bright Silver paint) in a few areas.
After only a very few minutes with a cheap brass bristle brush from HF, and some spritzing of WD40, there is quite a difference in the brake plate.
This is the first year TLS brake on the '68 BSA, so it is worth having.
I have picked up pretty much all the parts to put this one-year-only front end back together. I had mentioned earlier that I thought the seal holders could be saved, so I bought a pair of seals for them. Here's where I was doing exploratory surgery and cleanup.
In the picture above, I had already held them on a mandrel and lightly tapped the tops of them back to a round shape. Then, I went after the last of the rust inside the seal holders. The process was to hold the part with one hand and run my electric drill with a steel wire brush up and down inside the part where the fork spring sits. I was almost done when I realized that the wire brush was tickling my hand through the wall of the seal holder. Yikes -- I had removed all the structural iron oxide, leaving only pin holes through the chrome!
At least these seal holders are readily available. I guess the minimum investment level just went up a little more.
Funny how making a few parts nice again will restore your desire to keep working on the project. Especially when the cost is minimal.
Ha! That's a good one. Call it, Cleaning to a fault.
No, the fault of cleaning.