Thursday, August 28, 2014

Instrument Restorations

Knowing when to do they work yourself and when to "outsource" is nothing short of an art form for the hobbyist custom bike builder or restoration guy. For me the balance is almost always $$$ vs quality of work. I consider myself a pretty capable guy from a technical perspective. More often than not I am happier with the quality of my own work than someone I might take something to if time is no object. Ultimately I just care about it more. Way too often I've decided to have an expert do some aspect of a restoration and it drags on for months because the guy won't/can't get too it. This can be unbelievably frustrating too. There are of course exceptions. For example, when I've had Trent help me with various fabrication and mechanical tasks the work ALWAYS exceeds my expectations. The guy is just amazingly talented and incredibly anal retentive. 

Some of the specialists this hobby creates are just fascinating to me.  There are tasks that even the most talented do-it-yourselfers among us just can't compete with. Some aren't all that technical, like Lee Lawson's license plate restorations. Others are incredibly technical. As an example, a friend of mine is having an original Stewart Warner speedometer rebuilt for his 1948 Indian Chief by Perry Ruiter. Based on his correspondence so far it appears Perry has skills, tools and and a sense of professionalism that make it very hard to justify doing the work yourself. I think you'll see what I mean...

 OK speedo is calibrated.  You're around 32 at 30 and 64 at 60. which is right in the range the SW factory called for (31-33 and 62-65).  You're a little bit slow at 90, indicating 93 when the factory called for 94-98.  But I always worry more about the 30-60 range than the 90 since that is where the vast majority of your riding will be.  A few pictures for you.  First a SW calibration chart, then the Stewart Warner magnet tester and hairspring selection kit.  This determined I should use a "white" magnet.  Next your speedcup with the hairspring installed (you can see the dab of white paint on the hub).  This is actually apart after initial assembly and testing to verify the white hairspring was the right one to use.  In this picture I still need to install the dampener cam on the speedcup shaft. Then finally, the speedcup assembly installed and in my holder allowing the "glue" to dry.  For motorcycle speedos, because of the vibration, the factory said to use Ambroid on all the screws so as to prevent them from vibrating out.  The hairpsring adjuster you made a new rivet for is supposed to have some resistance to movement from the rivet, but yours moves very easily now, so I also glued it in position.  You can also see the dampener cam above the hairspring.  Need to do the odometer next.
 OK I'll call you once I'm across the border on Monday night. Maybe around midnight.  I could met you at Southgate.  I could call when I get there (maybe 2am) ... Perry

 So, who is the unbelievably good guy you all are using to rebuild magnetos?

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