Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fender & Tires

I've about decided for certain I prefer the looks of an 18" rear wheel. It's very common to lace in a Harley 16" rim so guys can run a fatter rear tire. The first Triumph bobber I every saw had Firestone Deluxe Champions and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

I've been talking the Craig at Front St Cycles who makes flawless reproductions of 36 Ford Spare Tire covers for fenders. He confirmed that a 4.50 X 18 will not clear one of his fenders, it's too tall. Typically when you see a 36 fender it's with a 5.00 X 16 wheel which almost an identical OD to a 4.00 X 18 but is almost an inch wider. I started to worry that a 4.00 X 18 would look pretty goofy with a 36 fender. I finally found a picture of one. I actually think the fender looks pretty good.

Finally, here's a picture of one of Craig's fenders

Friday, June 27, 2008


This post is just for Rob's benefit.

I stumbled across a picture of a 68-70 front wheel without the infamous "hubcap."

Here's a photo of the type used from 69-70 (my preference).

...and the '75 Ford Maverick hubcap that was standard issue on the '68

They also changed the cable routing for the front brake in '69. I've been wondering how I'm gonna keep the cable out the front tire when I pull the front fender off.



As The Idle Screw Turns

A few quick notes about where i am on the perpetual carburetor tuning Soap Opera. I realized a couple of days ago some of my tuning weirdness was a result of inconsistent fuel delivery from the gas tank, which i resolved. It could still idle more constantly but overall it's now running pretty damn well with:
  • 180 Main Jet
  • Middle notch on the needle
  • Countless pilot jet cleanings
It's still really hard to start WARM without priming. Not sure what that's about. Still need to check the timing. Rob has also recommended confirming the valve timing a couple of times. Dad recommended checking the coil voltage once, that still might be a good idea.

I've never had a bike that was hard to start warm before...


I starting to think hard about hardtails. I've pretty much decided to buy one of the bolt ons built by David Bird. He builds 0", 2", 4" and 6" stretches. If I were ordering one today I'd buy a 4", which also lower the overall height slightly. It's between that and a 2" which gives it essentially a stock stance. In the photos on the right the top bike is a 4" and the bottom is a 2". If you have a strong preference between the two leave a comment to let me know what it is.

Vintage Motor Clothing

I found out about this through the Wing Nuts blog. I guess they aren't quite open for business but it looks it's gonna be pretty cool.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Troubleshooting Ideas

With a day or two of thought, there are two carb issues I have not completely exhausted.

I probably need to really confirm the float levels are correct. The most definitive method I've found for doing that is this one. I suspect the float level may be too low in one or both. Symptoms include:
  • slow to tickle (too low)
  • lean running (too low)
I'm still pretty confident the closest I've come to right is the 180 main jets and the needle on the middle setting. The problem is, it won't idle and there doesn't seem to be enough range of adjustment in the pilot screw to correct the 0 - 1/8 throttle mixture problem. This make me again question if there might be residual crap in the pilot jets.

They say " The number one cause for poor starting, erratic idle and poor low speed running are clogged pilot jets" and I have now tried to clean them several times. I've been trying the guitar string method. I think it's time to commit to the #78 drill. I was a little nervous about breaking a drill that small off before now.

I still think it's worth the effort to confirm the ignition timing is correct too.

Finally, for those that have so generously helped me realize this project, please don't think I'm ungrateful if I have postings that are negative or moody occasionally. As you know I'm a moody bastard. I think the fact that we've all collectively owned the exact same POS British car at various times in our lives should give some insight to where I'm coming from sometimes.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Carburetor Tuning

I'm starting to have carburetor nightmares that wake me up at night.

Since my last post I determined the bike is running pretty good with 180 main jets at 3/4 to full throttle but everything else sucks. Won't idle, can't start it without manually priming it, backfires constantly at low-to-mid throttle, just not right. Adjusting the pilot screw doesn't seem to affect the way it runs at any setting. I began to wonder if the 180 was really too lean. Tried 190's and well... everything sucked again.

Put the 180's back in, tried my best to make certain the pilot jets were absolutely clean, adjusted and synchronized the chokes and synchronized both throttle slides. I then dropped the needles to the middle position. Bike ran well at 1/4 to 3/4 and 3/4 to full throttle. It refuses to idle at all and I still have to prime it to start it. I had to adjust the pilot screws all the way in (full rich) and still effectively ran out of adjustment. Tried dropping the needle to the bottom slot (richest setting). It doesn't run quite as well at mid throttle but the throttle opening and pilot screws actually now do something when you adjust them. It will now idle at about 3000 RPM but it dies if you drop the idle below that.

Something about the pilot circuit just seems screwed. I'm at a bit of a loss for what to do next. Dad may help me check the timing later in the week, it really seems like a two person job. I don't feel like I'm making any real progress, just "sweeping the same pile of dirt around the garage floor over & over." I just noticed it seems to be leaking oil from the head gasket after it's been running for several minutes.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Status Update

I finally got the 180 main jets today. The carbs still need some serious tweaking but overall it's really running pretty well. I must say I'm a little stunned by how quick it is. I'm not bragging but I've ridden some pretty fast bikes over the last 30 years. I guess I was expecting kinda the motorcycle equivalent of an Austin Healey 3000, it's more like a 440-6 pack 4 speed. Not crazy fast, but certainly surprising for a 40 year old 650.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I really like the look of Ford Model A taillights on Triumphs. Unfortunately they're starting to become bit overused. I've been keeping my eyes open for something else that's cool.

I like the taillight on this BSA quite a bit, particularly the placement. I think it's from a '37 Ford Deluxe.

Update: I've gotten a couple of interesting suggestions if I decide to run a fender flush mounted taillight:
1938-1939 Lincoln Zephyr
Porsche 356A

Friday, June 13, 2008


Rob & I were talking seats and the eerie slipping off the back feeling you get when gas it while riding on some sprung seats. I saw this one and kinda liked it. West Eagle is actually a Japanese manufacturer that has a bit of a cult following in California. They apparently don't have a formal US distributor so you have to look around for them a bit. It looks quite a bit like the Brooks on this Crocker. Hey, that's a nice oil tank on that Crocker. Where have I seen that before?

Guess I'm now committed, Joey won an eBay auction for one. 2008-6-16

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Celebrity Main Jets

It's been a while. I pulled the float bowls and discovered I have 220 main jets. Way too rich for the old ABQ. I called SW Cycles and they were helpful with jetting advice but did not actually have the correct size jets in stock.

I began looking for something mail order. Google produced a vast array of the ubiquitous Triumph retailer's 10 year old websites complete with clear text shopping cart. Ebay had single jets up for auction with $10 buy it now prices and $7 shipping. I ended emailing Wes at Four Aces Cycle Supply. He said they had the jets recommended as a starting point (180's). Apparently behind the scenes he had ordered them from a local supplier for delivery to the shop today. When I called back today, he opened the package and realized they'd actually sent over 280's. He dug around the shop and ultimately raided the stash the shop uses when they travel to Bonneville. I hope they end up resolving my problems. I wonder if they've broken 100 MPH...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Do Duel Carbs Make My Butt Look Big?

Dad just posed the following question:

I'm wondering if your carbs were re-jetted for our altitude after moving
from Chicago.

The way the Amal's are designed, fuel flow is proportional to the throttle
opening. Fuel pulled in at the venturi is somewhat dependent on air flow
but not to the extent of SU's. With SU's, piston height is proportional
to air flow, and they would better compensate for differences in air

With the Amal's, lower air pressure could mean a richer mixture. Air
pressure in abq is about 80% of sealevel pressure.

Good question.

Aubrey mentioned that he had spoken to Southwest Cycles about proper jetting when he moved. They recommended he drop the needle to the lowest setting (highest notch), which would make it leaner. Based on the carb book Rob sent me, if the main jet was too large it would mainly be noticeable at 3/4 to full throttle. Theoretically the needle adjustment would counter act that setting to some degree in the mid throttle range. It seems bad through the whole throttle on the RH side. Full throttle is the only time the RH seems to clear out at all.

I called SW Cycles now and they said they normally start out in the 170-190 mainjet range. I can't remember now what size I'm running. They did offer the same needle advice if it was in that range. They also suggested bumping the timing 5 degrees to adjust for altitude.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Troubleshooting Ignition

I've been thinking about ways to troubleshoot my potential ignition problem. I'm gonna start by buying two fresh spark plugs (they cost less than a gallon of gas). I thought I might also swap the plug wires left for right after I've confirmed the spark plugs didn't resolve the problem. Technically I could swap the coils left for right too, it's just a little more hassle.

Any other suggestions?

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Dad came over bright and early to help me purge and replace all the burned wiring. It took most of the day but we replaced a bunch of shoddy crap in the process. I'd hate to think what Dad's time would have cost at an hourly rate but I think with his help I'm confident we could build a whole new harness if we had to.

The bike is running the best it has so far. Something is still wrong on he right side. Dad thinks it's an ignition problem.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Qwest for Whitworth Tools

So I found this British Motorcycle place up in the U-District, in business since '74, and at first the guy (I think his name was Roland D LeBay) seemed a little reluctant to open the door. There was a pile of Triumphs and parts knee deep inside, and he was working on a Triumph Trident. Eventually he loosened up a bit. I think there was a 1955 Triumph pre-unit in the back shop bay that was restoring itself. I heard creaking and when I looked, it was much shinier... Thought I heard some Liverpool rock'n'roll playing too...

Sorry I couldn't be there for the fireworks. If anyone reads this post, don't tell Lynn about the tools!!

Wiring Woes

Dad & I were doing some carburetor troubleshooting after taking the Bonnie for a spin post valve adjustment when I noticed the familiar smell of burning British wiring. Dad was able to pull the battery cable but not before ground wiring had pretty much burned the length of the loom. We eventually discovered the sheathing had worn off the choke cable near the headstock and the bare metal housing had made contact with the Zener diode. Dad and I are planning to replace the burned wiring tomorrow but I will probably have to replace the harness somewhere down the line. It's a Britsh bike, I expected to have to do that before we even bought it.

The Whitworth Connection

Rob found some Whitworth tools at a Brit bike shop in Seattle and bought them. Awesome!

Compression Update

Dad dropped by today and helped me adjust my valves. Post valve adjustment we were getting cold readings of 125 PSI on both sides. It's also much easier to start, just a good bit harder to kick. We still have a probable carburetion problem but I think we're getting closer.

Because I'm allowed to..

So, Dad says I get a ride soon. I'm pretty stoked! He also said he won't post until I finish mine. So I best. The little brotha has a motorcycle on his shirt so it's relevant. enough.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I got the needle retainer I needed to get my RH carb back together. It's running much better at low to mid RPM. I checked the compression again after it had been running about a minute. LH cylinder still measures about 95 PSI, LH side was about 60 PSI.

The guys down at Sourhwest Cycles do head related machine work, cylinder boring, etc. Dad's new insight into Whitwoth tools helps:

"The key for decoding whitworth wrenches is that the value stamped on the
wrench specifies the bolt diameter rather than the head measurement
across the flats."

"By this standard, I believe that the valve adjuster lock nut takes a
3/16" wrench. The head measurement across the flats is 0.445". The
following table gives all of the measurements."

I need to find a good deal on a 3/8th's drive socket set.

Ran the bike a little longer tonight, probably long enough to get it fully warmed up. I then repeated the compression test and got 90 PSI on both sides. Rob recommended doing another check of the problem side (RH). Now I'm not even getting 30 PSI...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

All Forked Up

Can an old guy like me learn to "blog? I guess we'll see. It's hard to be so far away when something need fixing...

This Triumph has a really beautiful front fork. I wonder what it's from???

I gotta go search for Whitworth tools, so I'd better go.


I really like the way this fender is cut. It's made from the spare tire ring from a '36 ford.

Paint Idea

I really like the goldleaf on this bike.

Oil Tank

I really like this oil tank. It's a 50's style automotive Beehive oil filter.

Compression Test

Last night I performed a "wet" compression test, adding oil to the RH cylinder with poor compression. The theory is if the weak compression is a result of poor piston ring seal, the oil will temporarily alleviate the problem.

I saw virtually no difference so I likely have a valvetrain problem.

Monday, June 2, 2008

650 Rebuild DVD

I contacted Four Aces Cycle to order one of their 650 Rebuild DvD's. They were out but are having more reproduced and took my number. I'm not able to find the Amal 930 needle retaining clip anywhere locally either. I was hoping to add that to my Four Aces order.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Tyler (home for two days between summer trips) helped me cart the bike in the truck to the car wash with a can of engine degreaser. It cleaned up pretty nicely. Sydney also took some photos for me since the ones I took previously kinda suck. 6/1/2008