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Elliott Montagu’s 1927 Triumph N model restoration – Part 6

The next thing to do was to set the timing. The "Instruction Book" says to set the points breaking with the piston 7mm before TDC and ignition lever fully advanced. VMCCUK old Triumph expert, Peter Cornelius, ( or ) recommended setting the timing at full retard on top dead centre. He maintains that the fuels we use now are so different to those used in the twenty's that the tuning figures are no longer relevant. With the points breaking, the piston at TDC and the lever in the fully retarded position it is only necessary to advance the lever until the engine sounds and pulls OK. Not very scientific but apparently it works. The timing was set and with a couple of mates watching I kicked it over. It didn't start because we had set the timing with the lever in the fully advanced position! The timing was reset and amazingly the engine fired and ran on the first kick. This was quite a moment for me. Perhaps in the fifties, after being thrashed around a paddock for years the bike was discarded. The engine hadn't made a sound for maybe sixty years and there it was running again with that old fashion characteristic exhaust note. The valve timing was obviously out as the engine was blowing back through the carby. The valve timing was altered by one tooth and that fixed it. (These engines don't have valve overlap). There were a few small problems to fix. The petrol cock fitted is a tapered rotary type and it was leaking about half a cup of fuel overnight. Lapping with polish got this down to about half a teaspoon overnight. The difficulty in seating the needle valve in the float chamber is apparently common to these carbys but it appears that once the engine is running it's not a problem. I have tried lapping the needle in, making a new needle and attaching a short rubber tipped needle from a modern carby to the needle. This didn't work because when the diameter of the short rubber tipped needle is reduced to fit, the flutes disappear and the fuel flow past the tip is reduced. The oil system on this engine is interesting. It is a total loss system. Oil is carried in a tank integral with the fuel tank and is delivered by a hand pump on the tank or…

Elliott Montagu’s 1927 Triumph N model restoration – Part 5

If you are contemplating restoring a machine it's best to make it as authentic as is reasonable. It will look and ride like it did when the new owner brought it home and proudly showed it to his family and his mates. You won't run into problems when licensing it and it may be more valuable. The Club defines an authentic machine as follows. The machine must consist of at least four or the original six major components that is engine, gearbox or transmission, frame, forks, petrol tank and wheels. To be classified as original the components must come from a machine of the same make and type, but not necessarily the same year provided that the model concerned was manufactured basically unchanged over a period of years. Faithful reproduction of two of the missing components is acceptable. Over the years tin ware like mudguards and tanks rust, controls and lighting components are removed, bikes get modified and bits get lost. You have to make them, get them made, swap or buy them. Reprinted parts books, pictures and the Club library are good sources for finding out what the parts you have to make or otherwise acquire look like. The handle bars that came with my bike were only fit for scrap. The original bars were 7/8th inch diameter with a bulge to 1inch at the centre where they fit onto the bike. I found a place that sells imperial size tubing. (They make roll cages for competition cars.) I turned up a 1inch sleeve and welded it to the centre of a straight bar. I made it known that I needed someone to bend the bars for me as I reckoned if I did it they wouldn't be recognisable as handle bars. A talented Club member and a slab of beer got me a "sporting and a touring handle bar." I chose to fit the touring bar. This Triumph came with either a lever throttle or a straight pulling twist grip control. When the twist grip option was chosen the bike came with a twin lever control to operate the choke and the ignition advance and retard. I had a twin lever control but one of the levers was broken off. It had Triumph stamped on it so it had to be resurrected. I found a 50's choke control in the Club store and with some modification it fitted…

Elliott Montagu’s 1927 Triumph N model restoration – Part 4

After months of trying to source an original clutch it became obvious that there just wasn't one available. A friend of mine in the Club said no worries we will make one. (I'm not naming people because I might forget someone who helped me). I had one component of the clutch and that was the splined 'clutch driving member' that fits the driven shaft of the gearbox. The clutch driving member also has a large diameter track to take the bearing on which the basket runs. I was fortunate to have this component as manufacturing it would entail machining splines and case hardening the bearing track. The basket that holds the clutch friction discs and clutch plates was spun. A flat steel disc of suitable thickness is retained in a lathe and as it turns the operator applies a tool with a long handle and bends the metal as it turns until the metal is shaped as in the picture. Slots are then cut to take the friction plate lugs. The first attempt using the spun basket didn't work too well. I welded a band around the basket to stop it opening up as pressure was applied during the operation of the clutch but the addition of this band caused some distortion and balance problems. The fix was to machine a basket out of a piece of large diameter aluminium bar. Another friend machined the basket and milled the slots to take the clutch plates. New AJS parts are used for the plates, the clutch springs are modern Triumph and rollers are used in the bearing. The clutch is driven from the engine via a chain wheel attached to the basket. The number of teeth that can be accommodated on the clutch chain wheel depends, to some degree, on the overall diameter of the clutch which itself is governed by the diameter of the clutch plates. The clutch and chain wheel and chain have to fit into the primary chain cover which is designed to accommodate fore and aft movement of the gearbox to allow tensioning of the primary chain. The unit had to be made to fit or else the primary chain case cover would need to be modified. My main consideration, however, was to keep the final ratio the same as the original bike. The ratio is all about how many times the engine crank shaft turns over…

Elliott Montagu’s 1927 Triumph N model restoration – Part 3

Surprisingly the carby wasn’t difficult to obtain and it came from the UK in excellent condition with inner and outer cables and complete with a float and needle. The gearbox casing I had was compatible with the earlier scissor type clutch but my machine was fitted with the pushrod type which requires lugs on the casing. I took some measurements off another bike. Made some lugs and had them welded in place. My attention then turned to getting something to put in the gearbox. After twelve months I still hadn’t been able to source the innards for the gearbox. My luck changed at the Bunbury IHC Rally. One day’s riding ended at Boyanup and while waiting at the finish line I got talking to an IHC member. After telling him about my search for gearbox bits he said he thought he had the right gearbox in his shed which was about 300 meters from the finish line. We went over to the shed where he ratted around in his collection of bits and pieces and produced a gear box full of gears. It was exactly what I needed. A price was negotiated and he brought it to Perth when he came up for the Swap Meet. The gears were in good condition. I fitted new bearings, turned up bushes and made leather seals. I also needed the part which attaches to the lugs we had welded to the gearbox. It has the rather grand name of a ‘gearbox clutch control buttress’. (I still didn’t have a clutch for it to control but more about that later). Eight months of trying to locate one of these buttress things proved fruitless. Once again a Club member came to the rescue and offered to cast one for me. I borrowed a buttress off a mate’s bike and we used it for a pattern. Each side of the part to be made was pressed into special sand contained in two halves of a box. Before the two halves were joined small channels were gouged in the sand to allow the molten metal to reach all corners of the impression. The furnace was fired up, metal scraps and off cuts dropped into the crucible. When the metal was molten it was carefully poured into the mould and on the second attempt we had a gearbox clutch control buttress. In the Club parts store I found…

Elliott Montagu’s 1927 Triumph N model restoration – Part 2

1927 Triumph N restoration - continued To continue from last month, the frame and forks needed a little work but were generally OK. The wheel bearings were replaced, the brake drums skimmed, linings renewed, new axles made and the wheels respoked with stainless steel spokes. It was a physiological lift to see something that resembled a motor cycle standing in the shed. I needed a set of flywheels but in the meantime the cylinder was rebored and a piston obtained. Fortunately the engine came with the cams. Valves were manufactured from new car valves, guides were turned up and springs obtained from the UK, main and big end bearings were bought. After about twelve months I sourced a set of fly wheels but on dismantling them I found they weren’t much good. The lack of fly wheels was becoming a major problem but was fixed when a Club member who had heard I needed flywheels brought a set along to a Club meeting and kindly donated them to the cause. I had two conrods both of which were checked for straightness and twist. The lathe bed does as a flat surface for this. The flywheels were assembled using the best conrod and the assembly trued using a dial guage. Engine retaining bolts were made and bolt heads and nuts were turned to replicate the original article. The engine was assembled and I then turned my attention to getting something to put inside the empty gear box that came with the bike bits. I was also short of a carby. [gallery columns="1"]

Parts pickup at Bunbury

These pics were taken when we picked up the last big purchase of parts in Bunbury. It shows some of the behind the scenes activity by members for the Club. Greg Boothey supplied the truck. pics supplied by Elliott [gallery link="file" columns="1"]

Elliott Montagu’s 1927 Triumph N model restoration – Part 1

In October 2008 I bought a frame, wheels, tank and some engine bits that were parts of one of six 1927 Triumph N models imported into WA. As you can see from the photos I had a lot of work ahead of me if I was going to make a roadworthy Club bike out of what I had. It's now getting close to completion and my target is the Roaring Twenties Rally next year. There are many Club members who steered me in the right direction for obtaining parts and general info on the machine. Some bits took over a year to find. Peter Cornelius, the Vintage M/C of United Kingdom's early Triumph expert was also very helpful. Peter who lives in NZ visited this club a couple of years ago and gave a talk on early Triumphs.Over the next months I will put some photos and words in the e-Chatter in the hope that it might encourage some of our newer members to give it a go. There are less ambitious projects around and plenty of info and help available. [gallery link="file" columns="1"]