Tuesday, August 28, 2012


At 22:23 last night I got a text from Peppe to say he had just finished the wiring.
We start it up tomorrow and see what's what. Probably get the strobe gun to set the timing, but that should be it, hopefully...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Top brass.

This is the oil tap on the main feed. Forget to open it, and the last thing you'll ever hear will be the harrowing screech of metal on metal followed by a ball of vintage shrapnel flying off in every direction. Fun times!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The tail wagging the dog.

Today was a productive day for the Rising Star, even though the test ride didn't happen.
Most of the wiring has been done and the battery is in place.
We also finally got the tail light hooked up and I must say it is very impressive.

Because it uses a led cluster and because of the way the leds are set up, it meant we had to wire the bike with a negative earth, as opposed to the traditional positive earth system found on most other Brits.
It's not a problem, but it does feel a little like the tail wagging the dog. On the other hand there was absolutely no way I was going to leave that tail light in a box.
Check out the high tension leads (also from Lowbrow):

We adjusted the chain and skimmed a hair off the conical spacer, so it all fits right now.
Over the next few days the wiring will be completed, after that it really is only a matter of firing it up and seeing what it's all about...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A clutch conundrum.

Peppe has made two steps forward and one step backwards as he came across a nuisance with the clutch that required a little extra thought to diagnose.
Basically, though everything appeared to be in order and was, in fact, correctly assembled, the pushrod actuating mechanism (which uses three ball bearings sandwiched between two small metal plates in order to expand as it rotates) was not able to lift the clutch pressure plate on the opposite side, at the clutch basket. Instead, under the strain, the mechanism was "camming out" with a nauseating crunch. Long story short, it turned out to be a matter of very fine adjustment at all points, due to the fact that modern friction plates are thicker than original specs, therefore eating up much of the usable length of the normal pushrod adjuster (the one that sits in the centre of the pressure plate).
It all works as it should now, and with the first signs of wear, further adjustment will compensate and bring the situation back within normal parameters.
Still, an unexpected delay. Will it still make its scheduled test ride tomorrow night?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wiring in progress.

Yesterday I took the bike from its vault to Peppe's workshop. Since it's (mainly) downhill, I hopped on and let gravity do the work, all the while thinking "did I adjust the brakes properly?". Peppe took care of the oil lines (including a gorgeous brass tap and a cheeky breather line), installed Boyer's Powerbox and ignition modules, as well as the main switch and the lights switch in the avionics box. We also took care of that pesky stud on the intake manifold, fitted the air and throttle cables and started laying out the wiring loom. Electricity, coming soon.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Well, what do you think o' that??!

All major components are back on, the rear chain is hooked up, ignition coil, oil tank, seat...
Here's what remains to be done, and I'm afraid it's all in Peppe's hands again:
> Electrics: all the wiring needs to be done from scratch, that means all the wires, connections and insulation as appropriate.
> Oil lines need to be plumbed in, this is fairly straightforward, but I will add a tap on the main oil feed. I know this is risky (you forget to open it and you're looking at a busted engine), but since realistically this won't be on the road every day, I'd rather avoid excessive wet-sumping.
> Cables: throttle, choke, clutch all need to be connected. I'll probably do this myself while Peppe works on the wiring loom. There is also the strong possibility that the front brake cable is too damn long and may need to be cut down, somehow. I hope that's not the case because on the OIF, it isn't just a cable: the outer cable is made to lock into the first cam and pushes it against the second cam, which is pulled by the inner cable's terminal. This arrangement ensures that the shoes are balanced and requires no adjustment. Ever.
> I need a replacement intake manifold stud, the one I had got mangled up when I was mounting the carburetter. this was bemusing on top of frustrating: the new nuts I was fitting came from England as part of a spares order, specifically for that, but the threads were inaccurately cut, beyond the shadow of a doubt.
There's not much else left to do in terms of "big jobs". After the bike is wired up and running, well... I could go on who knows how long putting "the finishing touch" on it and, to a certain extent, that has to be avoided. Obviously I want to get the fuel tank painted as soon as I can (who knows, I might even make it in time for the rally), because in my head I know exactly how I want it to look. I want to touch up the paint on the frame here and there (there are a couple of spots where it was slightly nicked during assembly. Considering I did all that by myself though, I think I did very well in terms of "damage control"). But other than that, really, there isn't that much left to do.
I've been wanting to get this bike built and on the road for a good while now, and most of the time between gathering parts and now, has been spent waiting for Peppe to help with the mock-up, and now again with the wiring. So instead of waiting, provided you have the skills and the tools* you could easily get a bike like this from intoxicated club-nite vision to havoc-wreaking reality in about a month? Maybe two months?
But I digress.
I'm trying to persuade Peppe to help me with the wiring and the rest of the jobs sometime this week so I can take it to the rally, which is fast approaching.
Naturally, I will bribe him with cigars and liquor...

*I'm leaving out the obvious ingredients here, money, place, time...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Time to crack on.

Right then. Paint on the frame and mudguard has cured satisfactorily, so now it's time to finish this thing.
I painted the oil tank, fork shrouds, avionics box, footrests and other assorted bits and pieces.
While they were drying, I cleared the lift of all parts and put down a protective cardboard and bubblewrap cover. I then reclined the engine on its left side, and carefully fitted the frame around the engine. In go the engine mounting bolts and brackets that keep it all together and then it's time to carefully right it. At this time, it rests on an assortment of wooden blocks and a hydraulic jack. Needless to say this is not very stable, and it's a good thing it's only me in the garage. No people, no music, no distractions and not much room for error.

I then moved onto the steering bearings (time to pack them with fresh grease), yokes then fork legs (time to add 190cc of oil per leg) and the front wheel. By this point I was on a roll and things were - surprisingly - fitting right back where they were supposed to, what a novelty! So then, mudguard and rear wheel... and of course I had spoken too soon. After buckets of sweat, heaving, much cursing and miscellaneous profanities, the rear wheel (which shall hencetoforth be referred to as "the bitch") was in, axle locked.

It's only at this point that the motorcycle can rest on its own stand. I also connected the front brake, though it needs adjustment at the hub, then at the handlebars.

Here's the battery carrier:

Mandatory self-indulgent "wrenching" shot:
(keep out of direct sunlight)

Here's a closer look at the footrests:

Regulation "busted knuckle" shot:

Now, obviously this is nothing, but here's the point: when people say they have poured their sweat, blood and tears into their choppers/flat-trackers/scramblers/what-have-you, they're not just saying it pour parler, there is an inescapable truth there...
A murky shot showing the right-hand footrest installed (and new rubber piece on the gear lever!):

Finally the exhausts:

Not bad for one day, right?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


This is a big step forward.
Some of the roughnecks from the club had seen the BSA mocked-up and showing raw metal everywhere and - eager to see it running, which I get - said "Just leave it like this! Wire it, fire it up and ride that thing!".
But I always thought that with the frame and most other parts painted black, the end result would have been much more cohesive and elegant.
Once again, Witold stepped up and helped. Actually he did more than just help, he not only rushed to buy paint just one hour before the paint shop closed for the summer, he then got the bloody thing done.
We loaded the frame, mudguard and engine brackets into his four-wheeler (that's all they're good for, cars) and took everything to his place, where we washed the parts with a strong household abrasive degreaser and got to work. First was a base of flat grey primer:

Then it was onto black polyurethane paint:

With a steady and expert hand, Witold painted that thing like a pro. I knew it would look great in black but it turned out even better than I had imagined.
24 hours later, safe to handle, it was all back in the cave, ready for "final" assembly.

This is a big step forward. Strike my last. We just made a giant leap forward.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012


"Dismantled?" you say? Yes, and here's how & why.
After the mock-up was complete, we brought the "bike" back to my garage and, after immediately turning the handlebar back the way it's supposed to be, I took the whole thing apart again.
It took me just under 3 hours, no rush.

As I did all that, I put every tool I used in a box so that by the end I had a good idea of what's needed for travel and maintenance.
I'll soon go about making a toolkit just for this bike before the rally in September, based on what's in the box.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Catching up.

So, of course I had go about this half-assedly, that's just my style.
Ok, in my defence I had been dealing with a crappy rent/apartment/move/bills situation that required my attention, and Peppe was busy getting bike after bike ready for various trips.
That's also why there was nothing showing up on this page for a long time.
Still, the result was that the BSA lay dismantled* for week after week and it was only last week that Peppe found a two-hour window to complete welding work on the frame.
So I hauled it over my shoulder and carried it - on foot - from my garage to his workshop. It's the kinda thing the chopper lifestyle is about.
Now the frame is done. Every weld has been reinforced where needed and I can finally paint it. But there's a problem. Because I "waited" so long to get it done, we are now in the middle of August.
A time so dead in this city, that if you don't have supplies in your own home, you could easily starve. Needless to say the paintshop is closing up and won't be open for business again until mid-September.
That just won't do. But I was stuck at work and couldn't get to the shop in time to get paint. Luckily I have good friends. Witold did me a solid and went to get the paint for me. You're a star, thanks mate.

* I'll get to the dismantled part in a moment.