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MC How-To
Step by step: From general maintenance to complete restorations, we share tips and tricks for working on classic bikes.


Replacing the Clutch Friction Discs on a Honda CL450

1969-honda-cl450 

BikeMaster logo

For this How-To we’re going to replace the clutch friction discs in a 1969 Honda CL450, but this procedure would work for CB450s too, and is similar on the 350s. We undertook this project because the motorcycle had been stored so long that the petcock leaked gasoline into the sump, and after fixing that problem the clutch slips. You will need clutch plates and possibly clutch springs, though those are rarely bad. A new gasket for the right side case would be useful, and a new seal for the kickstart shaft, if needed. If the oil sump plug O-ring is flat you’ll need to replace it too. Dime City Cycles will have some or all of these parts. You’ll need oil of the correct weight and amount also, in this case 1.8 liters of 10w40. A good set of metric sockets and wrenches, particularly 10, 12, 14, 17 and 19mm sizes. Start by draining the oil through the sump plug on the bottom of the engine. You’ll need a 19mm wrench, preferably a socket. Most of the sump plugs have been mangled over the years from people using SAE or adjustable wrenches in the place of metric. They also suffer from overtightening.- Keith Fellenstein

man-removing-spring-with-needlenose-pliers

1. Using needle-nose pliers, remove the spring that actuates the rear brake light switch. This spring looks suspiciously like something found in the previous owner’s junk drawer, but it works.

slacken-off-break-adjuster

2. Slacken off the brake adjuster nut at the rear wheel. A deep 14mm socket works to get it started, but you should be able to remove it by hand once the spring tension is reduced.

removing-foot-rest

3. Remove the right footpeg. One bolt is the lower motor mount stud and the other is a through bolt. You’ll need a 14mm wrench and a 17mm wrench for this step.

propping-break-leaver

4. Prop the brake lever down against its spring using a suitable flat piece. We used a wood scrap, but a metal piece would work too. You’ll need it out of the way to easily remove the right engine cover.

removing-11mm-bolt

5. Remove the 12mm bolt holding the kickstarter and carefully lever off the kickstarter. The seal was worn out and will be replaced. It’s a 17 x 20 x 7 available from many sources, including Dime City.

man-holding-two-case-screws

6. Remove the screws holding the right case cover. There are two different lengths of screw, the longer ones are for the two case holes with hollow dowels.

man-holding-metal-rings

7. With a rubber mallet, tap around the case until the gasket breaks free and remove the right-side engine cover. You will have a small oil spill even though you already drained the sump, so be prepared. If you’re lucky, you can reuse the case gasket, but best practice is to use a new one.

man-holding-metal-rings

8. With the cover removed you can pry out the old kickstart seal; ours was so brittle it came out in two pieces.

cleaning-out-gasket

9.Clean out the seal cavity with brake cleaner and a rag to remove any oil that has leaked in. Put the new seal squarely in place in the opening of the case.

scrape-nylon-breaking-plate

10. We used a scrap of nylon as a backing plate to apply even pressure to the seal, then pressed it in place with the palm of my hand. I tapped it home the final millimeter or so with an appropriately sized socket and rubber mallet.

man-removing-springs-via-screws

11. Moving back to the clutch. Using a 10mm socket (assuming you can find one), back off the clutch spring bolts. Do them evenly until you have released most of the spring pressure, then remove them completely.

man-removing-springs

12. Remove the springs, then pull the pressure plate off of the clutch pack. See anything odd about the clutch?

man-holding-many-sprokets

13. Pull the clutch pack, steel plates and friction plates out as a unit. Separate the friction plates and the steel plates and inspect the steel plates for bluing and warping. Replace any that show either sign.

man-holding-many-sprokets

14. Here’s something unexpected, a de-laminated friction plate. Perhaps sitting in a bath of oil and gasoline as this one did had bad effects.

man-holding-many-gaskets-again

15. Briefly dip the new friction plates in oil. Soaking them for long isn’t necessary, you’re just trying to get a thin film on the surface.

holding-gasket-with-gloves

16.Start to reassemble the clutch pack one plate at a time. We start with the special metal plate that nests in the bottom of the basket, followed by alternating friction and plain plates until we have a complete stack.

placing-pressure-plate

17. Place the pressure plate over the stack, making sure it completely engages the stack. On this bike it would be possible to install it incorrectly and never pressurize the clutch pack. This first photo shows the pressure plate in the wrong position.

rotating-clutch-panel

18. Here’s the correct position, 90 degrees rotated from the first photo. Notice the pressure plate comes in contact with the clutch pack.

replace-clutch-springs

19. Place the clutch springs in their places and start the screws that bolt them in place. Snug the 10mm bolts down. They’re small bolts so don’t overtorque them. A short handled 1/4-inch socket wrench will remind you to take it easy.

wrap-tape-around-kick-start-seal

20. Before replacing the right side engine cover, wrap electrical tape around the kickstarter shaft to prevent the splines from nicking the new kickstart shaft seal.

remove-tape-from-kickstart-seal

21. Push the engine case back into position, making sure the dowels are in place and seated. Remove the tape protecting the kickstart shaft seal.

replacing-screws

22. Reinstall the screws that hold the case in place, remembering where the two longer screws go. Reattach the footpeg, brake switch spring and brake control rod.

refilling-bike-with-oil

23. With the cover back on, refill the crankcase with the proper weight and amount of oil.

losening-slack-on-clutch-cable

24. There are a few more steps to complete the job, these are not strictly necessary but are good practice since you’re already working on the clutch. First slacken the clutch cable at the handlebar adjuster.

losening-lug-nut-on-cable

25. Next, loosen the locknut at the cable adjuster just outside the left cover over the clutch release mechanism. Turn the cable adjuster to provide more slack in the cable again.
adjusting-with-wrench

26. With a 10mm wrench, unlock the large slotted adjuster that tensions the clutch pushrod.

turning-adjuster

27. Using a suitable tool, screwdriver, or as here, a washer that fits the slot, turn the adjuster clockwise until you feel it stop.

adjusting-with-wrench

28. You have now taken all the play out of the clutch pushrod. Since we don’t really want any pressure on the pushrod unless we are pulling in the clutch, turn the adjuster back a small distance counterclockwise and relock the adjuster with the 10mm bolt.

taking-slack-out

29. Take most of the slack out of the cable using the adjuster we loosened in step 25. Tighten the 12mm nut and lock that adjuster.

final-brake-adjustment

30. Final adjustment of slack is at the handlebar control. Up to 1/4 inch of play is about right. Now go out and ride, checking to make sure the clutch releases and engages as you want it to.

Installing a Colorado Norton Works Electric Starter

Colorado-Norton-works-electric-starter 

BikeMaster logoBack in 2018 we installed an Alton electric starter on editor Hall’s Norton Commando. This time around we’re installing the other easily sourced electric starter kit, from Colorado Norton Works. As you can see from the photo above, this is a comprehensive kit that includes a belt drive conversion in addition to the starter. Like the Alton, this kit requires you to replace the inner chain case. The CNW starter requires you to remove the stock ham can air cleaner, as the starter motor takes up some of that space. Fortunately they also sell the K&N compact air cleaner that does fit with the starter. There’s rumor of a smaller stock looking air cleaner in the works from CNW. We’ll look at that when it comes out. Sometimes belt drives change the primary ratio, but this kit barely changes it, from 2.19 to 2.188. The included instructions are comprehensive, follow them and you’ll do fine. If your battery has a few years on it, replace it, preferably with an AGM battery, the largest that will fit in your battery space. We sourced a DEKA ETX16L from our local battery store. 
Keith Fellenstein

outer-chain-case

1. Begin by disconnecting the battery. Find the two wires running from the alternator to the wiring harness and unhook them. Disconnect the wires running to the rear brake switch and remove the rear brake pedal. Remove the center bolt from the outer chain case and drain the primary case. Remove the primary cover.

clutch-adjusting-nut

2. Remove the clutch-adjusting nut and clutch rod.

clutch-spring-protector

3. Using a clutch spring compressor, tension the spring so you can remove the retaining clip. Remove the clutch pressure plate and clutch plate pack. You can reuse your friction plates if they are not too worn. Ours had worn spline teeth so we purchased new Barnett friction plates.

clutch-hub

4. Bend back the lock tabs on the clutch hub nut retainer and remove the clutch hub nut with an impact driver. Remove the alternator rotor nut also. Remove the alternator nuts and place the alternator on top of the chain case while you remove the front sprocket and clutch wheel. Disengage the sprocket and chain wheel from the chain. Take the alternator in one hand and slide the chain over it and off, then hang the alternator off the center stud.

locking-tabs

5. Bend back the locking tabs and remove the three bolts holding the primary case to the engine. We’ve placed the alternator back on top of the inner primary while we do this.

pry-old-clutch

6. Pry the old clutch basket retaining clip out of its groove using your pointed tool of choice. You’re not going to reuse this, so there’s no need to be gentle. Once this clip is out and the three bolts holding the case to the engine are removed, place the alternator back in the case and remove all as a unit. If your Norton wet sumps (like mine), be prepared to replace the lowest screw back in the engine to stop the leak, or place a pan under to catch the oil.

machine-minus-primary

7. Here’s the machine minus the primary case. Inspect the primary sprocket and replace it if it shows signs of wear. You might also want to go up or down a tooth to change bike performance. The swing arm is off of this bike for bushing and pin replacement. I think the British say “In for a penny, in for a pound” or in this case many Pounds. The result should be a better handling bike.

ham-can

8. Back to the current task. As mentioned, the ham can has to be removed. Once that is out of the way, you have easier access to the breather stub off the back of the timing case. Unscrew it. CNW has provided a slightly shorter one that won’t foul the starter motor. Replace the stock pipe with the supplied shorter pipe.

inner-chaincase

9. Place the new inner chaincase in place, along with the new gasket. Install and finger tighten at least two of the supplied screws that hold the case in place. This is so you can measure the gap between the cover stud and the back of the chaincase. You’ll fill the gap with a combination of the supplied shims.

feeler-gauges

10. I used a mirror to see up under the case to show the gap, and then used feeler gauges to measure that gap. I also used a zip tie to hold the feeler gauges together to get the correct measurement.
shims-fill-void

11. Once you have the correct measurement, select shims to fill that void. You can then attach the inner case and bolt it into place. I like to seal the threads on the bolts with a little (very little) RTV silicone. Tighten down the bolts and bend over the tabs on the locking plates.

new-clutch

12. Carefully spread the new clutch circlip and push it into place on the mainshaft of the gearbox. The supplied circlip is designed to be used with snap ring pliers so you can spread it just enough to get it started on the mainshaft. It will click into place when home in the slot cut for it. Next you can place the backing washer over the circlip.

blue-painters-tape

13. Remove the blue painter’s tape covering the bearing. Take the intermediate gear assembly and determine which end fits that bearing and press it into place in the inner case. Carefully remove the washer and gear from the shaft end projecting out from the case. Take note of the orientation of the thrust washer on the end of the shaft. Later when you assemble it back to the shaft you will need to be sure the shoulder of the washer is facing you.

clutch-basket

14. Assemble the clutch basket over the mainshaft splines and push it home against the retaining washer. Spin it by hand listening for any contact between the basket and the inner chaincase. If there is interference, you will need to add shims until there isn’t.

fit-woodruff-key

15. Fit the woodruff key into the crankshaft. Taking the belt, front pulley and clutch basket as a unit, fit the belt drive assembly onto the crankshaft and gearbox mainshaft.

adjusting-belt-tension

16. Adjust the belt tension using the gearbox adjuster until the bottom run of the belt can be deflected up to the bottom of the alternator grommet. In this case, a little too loose is better than a little too tight. Once you have the setup to your liking, assemble the intermediate gear on the splines, meshing it with the gear on the crankshaft, and place the thrust washer over the end of the intermediate shaft, with the shoulder facing you.

spinning-gear

17. Remove the painter’s tape holding the bearing in the alternator carrier and bolt the alternator carrier to the inner case using the supplied bolts and a little blue Loctite. Test the assembly by spinning the gear exposed at the top of the inner case. It should turn easily clockwise and not at all counterclockwise.

insert-woodruff-key

18. Insert the woodruff key for the alternator rotor and fit the rotor on the end of the crankshaft. Using the supplied belleville spring washer and nut, tighten the rotor nut until you just flatten out the belleville washer. A strap wrench (not shown) can help hold the rotor while you do this. Also at this time feed the alternator leads through the grommet in the chain case in preparation for reconnecting them to the main harness.

rotor-stator-gap

19. Proper gap between rotor and stator is important, I use four brass shims of .008-inch-thickness to help set it. Once you have the gap set all around, tighten up the mounting screws. Then remove one at a time and apply a little blue Loctite to the threads and tighten them.

insert-clutch-pins

20. Insert the clutch plates, plain and friction, beginning with the extra plain plate supplied. The extra plate increases the stack height, making a much easier clutch pull at the lever. Holding the plates together with your spare hand, tighten the clutch hub nut until you just flatten the supplied belleville washer. Attach the clutch pushrod seal to the exposed threads of the mainshaft, using a small amount of blue Loctite for security. Refit the pressure plate and diaphragm clutch spring.

hook-battery

21. A nice combination starter/kill switch comes with the kit, mount it inboard of your throttle and run the wires alongside the existing wires and into the headlight bucket.

wiring-harness

22. Now is the time to lay out the wiring harness supplied with the kit alongside the frame backbone and run the long single wire into the headlight bucket.

kill-switch

23. For the kill switch, you’ll need to be able to interrupt the power to the ignition. In our case that meant disconnecting the power wires and running long leads from the splice into the headlight bucket where we can connect them to the kill/starter switch.

connecting-yellow-green-wires

24. Connect the yellow/green wires together with the supplied Wago connectors. Connect one of your ignition power wires to the red lead from the kill switch and connect the other to the red/white wire.

mount-starter

25. Mount the starter relay behind the rear downtube, using the supplied stainless bolt through the lower screw of the side panel mount. This bolt is longer than stock to accommodate the relay bracket. This step can take a little of what the Britishcall “fettling,” it may be easier if you remove the rectifier, mount the relay and then reinstall the rectifier. Connect the wiring harness plug to the relay and route the harness behind the battery carrier.

starter-motor

26. Place the starter motor loosely into its place on the inner case, meshing the pinion with the gear, and connect the solenoid wire (red spade connector) and the starter motor connector (ring connector). Tighten the ring connector but don’t overtighten it, you don’t want to spin the wiring stud inside the starter. Route the oil line from the rocker feed. Then fasten the starter to the inner case with the allen bolts and decorative cover supplied.

shorter-breather-stub

27. Use the shorter breather stub, 90-degree elbow and pipe to connect the timing case breather to the breather hose running to the oil tank.

hook-battery

28. Hook the battery to the main cables, paying careful attention to the polarity of the wires. This one was positive ground, so the thick cable from the back of the primary case went to the positive terminal of the battery. Tickle the carbs, turn on the key, press the starter button and be amazed at how fast it starts.

being-careful

29. There is one more task to perform and you have to be very careful doing it.

being-careful

30. There are two screws and locknuts on the alternator carrier. The screws are captive spring balls and they are there to stop the intermediate gear from turning all the time while the engine is running. These have to be adjusted with the engine running, thus the extra care needed. Start with the engine off, back off the locknuts so you can screw in the spring balls. With the engine running, turn both screws in 1/4 turn at a time until the idler gear just stops turning. Stop the engine and use the locknuts to lock the screws and then check your work. That’s it. All done!

Converting a Triumph 6-Volt Charging System

converting-6v-to-12v-for-better-lighting 
All the new (and used) parts needed to convert our 1964 Triumph T100SC Tiger, laid out and ready for installation.

There comes a tiBikeMaster logome when practicality overcomes originality, and a good example of that is our project for this issue, converting a 6v Energy Transfer (ET) ignition Triumph over to 12v while retaining the original no-battery look of the ET system. For that we used a 12v Lucas alternator and a Boyer Power Box, both sourced from Klempf’s British Parts in Dodge Center, Minnesota. I explained to Mitch Klempf that I wanted better lighting, but didn’t want to alter the look and he agreed that changing the alternator and putting a Power Box up under the seat would keep the look while allowing me to see the road ahead at night. This How To will show you how you can do this too if needed or wanted.

Keith Fellenstein

removing-foot-peg

1. We’ll begin by removing the left footpeg and lowering the brake lever for access to the primary drive and alternator.

slackening-chain-on-bike

2. You’ll also need to slacken off the primary chain tensioner and drain the oil from the primary. As the primary screws are of various lengths, it helps to draw a schematic on a piece of corrugate and punch the screws through in their proper places.

removing-nuts

3. Remove the nuts holding the alternator in place. Disconnect the five leads from the wiring harness and remove the alternator. Due to age and heat, the wires and sealing thimble may be stiff. Gentle heat from a heat gun can soften things up for easy extraction.

original-alternator-removed

4. The original ET alternator was unencapsulated open wiring and most have failed by now. The original ET coils likewise had perished and had been replaced with EMGO coils that worked in the same way as the originals. This alternator appears to have had some epoxy applied to it in the past.

hang-new-alternator

5. Hang the new alternator temporarily from one of the studs and feed the wires first through the new sealing thimble and then the inner primary case. It can be hard to feed the wires through, you may have to strip away some of the PVC jacketing to allow you to pass them through one at a time.

adjusting-clearance-between-rotor-and-alternator

6. Clearance between the rotor and the alternator is vitally important. You must have .008-inch clearance around the gap between the two. Using a single feeler gauge is not enough. A better method is using a piece of shim stock .008 inch thick and getting enough for 4 strips. I couldn’t find plastic of the correct thickness, so I bought brass shim stock and added adhesive tape to reach .008. When you have the correct clearance, tighten the alternator bolts to 20lb/ft.

removed-wiring-harness

7. After some disassembly it was apparent the original wiring harness was butchered beyond use, so we are moving forward with a new one.

mount-the-powerbox

8. Find a place to mount the Power Box. We put it here, where the battery would be if we had one. Attach the two leads from the new alternator to the yellow leads into the Power Box. This is AC so it doesn’t matter which lead from the alternator goes to which yellow lead.

regulating-ac-output-system

9. Now comes the tricky part, wiring. We’re turning an unregulated low output AC system into a fully regulated high output DC system. We begin with the alternator, the old system had five wires from the alternator. Four of these wires carried AC current and the red one was the ground. The easiest way to use the old harness (or a new one) is to connect all four of those wires to the black lead from the Power Box. That powers up all the wires with -12v. We’re keeping it positive ground for simplicity’s sake. Connect the red lead to the red lead from the Power Box.

cover-removed

10. Remove the points cover for access to the points plate, auto advance unit and points wiring. Remove the pillar bolts and pull the points plate out of the cavity. Disconnect the points wires.

removing-bolt

11. Remove the bolt holding the auto advance unit to the cam. Ideally you will use the auto advance extraction tool shown in the next step to pull the advance unit out.

threading-advanced-unit

12. Start by loosely threading the tool into the threaded portion of the advance unit. Then screw the inner pin in until it touches the end of the cam inside the timing cover. Tightening the bolt then will break the taper connection holding the advance to the cam. If you don’t have the tool, you can thread a 5/16-inch x 24 bolt into the end of the advance unit and gently tap it from the side to break the taper connection.

adjusting-the-points-timing

13. Due to the odd nature of the ET system, we will have to make some changes to the points wiring. We’re also taking this opportunity to change from the old 4CA points plate to the newer 6CA points plate with individually adjustable points timing.

changing-5-degree-advance-to-12-degree

14. We’re changing the old 5 degree advance to a 12 degree advance, taking advantage of the steady 12v from the Power Box. The advance is limited with the ET ignition due to the need to fire the coils at the peak of the AC waveform from the alternator.

et-coils-replaced-by-12v-lucas

15. The ET coils (modern version by EMGO) will be replaced by a pair of 12v Lucas coils I had in my junk box. Both bench tested ok.

12-v-prefocus-headlight-bulb

16. New 12v prefocus headlight bulb and standard 12v tail/brake light bulb. Also, a 12v instrument bulb (not shown). The old 6v horn will work ok on 12v for the intermittent use it gets.

mount-the-coils

17. Mount the coils. I had modified extra condensers for the ET system, they can be repurposed for the new system. Alternatively you could use a Lucas 2 condenser pack. The wire fasteners are a more modern version of wire nuts, and work very well to connect where you don’t have Lucas bullet connectors to use.

using-tdc-tool

18. With the alternator bolted up, find TDC on the piston closest to you. You can use a TDC tool as we did, or a soft piece of wire. When you have found TDC, mark a point on the alternator opposite the lower rotor mark. Also mark the wire or screwdriver. Measure up on the tool 8.4mm or .330 inches, this will be full advance. Rotate the engine backwards until the top mark is aligned with the spark plug hole. Make another mark on the alternator opposite the lower rotor mark. This is full ignition advance.

point-and-cover

19. On the timing side of the bike, look at the points in the points cover. One set should be open and the other closed. Using a feeler gauge, set the fully opened points to .014 inches. Rotate the engine one revolution and repeat for the other set of points. You now have the points gap set correctly.

small-screwdriver-pushing-the-advance

20. Use a small screwdriver to push the advance to fully advanced on the set of points not yet opened. They should just open as you reach the end of the travel. If they don’t, or if they open sooner, move that set of points until they are just opening. Lock them down.

21. Rotate the engine one revolution and repeat the last step for the other set of points. Now you have set the static ignition timing. This bike has no easy way of doing dynamic timing, no indicators other than the ones we just put on the alternator. Later machines have a window and pointer you can use with a timing light to double check your work. The original alternator has separate ignition and lighting circuits. The new one doesn’t, so starting is easier if you remember to turn off the headlight at the bucket switch. That’s it. All done!

Painting with Eastwood 2K Aero-Spray Paint

triple-tree 
A Honda CB450 triple tree and a Triumph 500 headlight bucket and a steering damper knob, ready for a fresh coat of paint.

Have you heard the old joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!  Well, something similar can be said about how to get professional paint results from spray cans, but here the trick is preparation, preparation, preparation.

BikeMaster logoIn this How-To we’ll show you just how you can get durable professional results from modern spray cans, and how to do so safely. Cans of Eastwood’s new 2K Aero-Spray Epoxy Primer ($25 per can) and 2K Aero-Spray Chassis Black paint ($25 per can) plus shipping are available on the Eastwood website. Clear coat is also available. Get a paint respirator ($25) from your local big box home improvement center, along with some blue painter’s tape. You should always use a respirator when painting, and this is especially important when you are using epoxy-type paints.

Wear rubber gloves if you don’t want to spend time scrubbing paint from your hands. Old clothes will keep the inevitable overspray from ruining your favorites. If you don’t have a dedicated paint booth, then pick a calm day, open up the garage and build a cardboard three-sided booth to reduce overspray and keep dust off your painted parts.

saftey-first

1.) Safety first! You may look silly, but it’s important.

headlight-bucket

2.) Here’s the headlight bucket from my Triumph. Other than touch-ups over the years, it’s probably original paint. The media blaster booth will take all that off fast and efficiently.

removed-paint

3.) It’s necessary to remove all the old paint first, we’ll do that using the blast cabinet we have from TP Tools. Once the paint is removed we’ll inspect the parts and clean them again with chemical cleaners. Just before we paint we’ll do it again with a chemical cleaner.

surface-prep

4.) Time for surface prep. Mask off any surfaces that you don’t want painted, like threaded pieces or clamping parts like the top of this Honda CB450 steering yoke.

eastwood-paints

5.) We’ll be using Eastwood two-part spray paints. These differ from the usual rattle cans in that they have an epoxy activator. Once activated you have about 48 hours to use that paint in the cans, so it pays to plan ahead and have all the parts you want painted ready.

activate-paint

6.) To activate the paint, first shake the can well for three minutes.

red-button

7.) Remove the red button from the top of the can and place it over the stem on the bottom of the can. Press firmly to puncture the can within the can, releasing the epoxy activator for the paint. Shake again for three minutes to thoroughly mix the activator with the paint. Once you do this, you have 48 hours to use the spray can.

primer-spraying

8.) After final chemical cleaning of the parts, primer them. Move the can parallel to the part. Start spraying before you reach the part and stop after you’ve passed the part. Many light coats are better than one heavy saggy coat. The same technique is used for the gloss black paint.

2000-grit

9.) Between coats, when dry enough, sand out any spatters with foam-backed wet and dry paper of 2000 grit. Again, this applies to the gloss black finish paint.

resist-temptation

10.) Resist the temptation to use the absolute last of the paint in the can, as delivery pressure and spray pattern suffers as the can is exhausted. This part took a little extra effort because I was trying to use the dregs of a can.

final-product

11.) The final product. It looks good. Primered over two days (life of the can), then painted over two days (same).

finished-parts

12.) The finished parts back in place on my Triumph. Now the rest of the top looks like it needs work. Time to buy more paint!MC

Adding a Carb Gantry to Your Norton Commando

carburetor-gantry
All the new parts that came in Donald Pender’s Norton carburetor gantry kit, laid out and ready for installation.

 

A few issues ago we installed a pair of Donald Pender’s version of the Lansdowne dampers on a 1974 Norton Commando. While looking through his list of available parts, we noticed another cool upgrade we were interested in trying out. Don manufactures a gantry setup for the Norton Commando. The kit, once installed, does away with the 1-into-2 cable throttle setup and greatly simplifies carb synchronization.

BikeMaster logoYou’ll search in vain for it at tritonmotorcycleparts.com, so instead your best bet is to email Don directly at madass140@gmail.com. That’s what we did, and for just $134, shipping included, exactly one week later (from the Phillipines!) we had the kit shown here.

In this How-To we’ll show you the steps necessary to change over from the 1-into-2 cable system to the single-cable gantry. One might ask whether this is really a necessary upgrade, and the answer, of course, is no. Norton Commandos with dual carburetors have been running their stock cable setups for decades and are functioning just fine.

gantry-part
A close-up of the gantry, which simplifies carb synchronization.

This is a modification that would definitely be labeled a “farkle,” but it is a practical one, as the setup delivers a smoother, easier throttle pull. It’s just one of those things you do to your machine to make it your own.
Keith Fellenstein

 

 remove-seat

1.) Start by removing the seat then the tank for easy access to the throttle cable and carburetors. Next remove the balance tube between the carburetors.

top-screws

2.) Remove the carburetor top screws and extract the slides and needles.

return-springs

3.) Pull the return springs back and carefully remove the metering needles. Note the position of the dip on the needle in case it gets displaced and you have to reset it. Free the cable ends from the slides and remove the cables from the carburetor tops.

disconnect-cable

4.) Once the carburetor ends of the throttle cable are free, disconnect the existing cable form the twist grip.

cable-adjusters

5.) Unscrew the cable adjusters from the carburetor tops; they won’t be needed.

silicone-tubing

6.) Take the supplied length of silicone tubing and screw it into the carburetor top as far as possible (usually about 1/4 inch).

trim-excess

7.) Trim the excess off with a razor blade, flush with the top of the carburetor top.

slide-ferrule

8.) With a pair of needle nose pliers, grasp the new slide cable close to the slide ferrule and push it through the silicone tubing. Repeat for the second carburetor.

inspect-tops

9.) Inspect your work. Both tops should look like this.

return-springs

10.) using your preferred method, replace the slide return springs, using the new ones supplied with the kit. I like to snap the spring coils over the cable and essentially screw the spring onto the cable. IT seems much easier than trying to compress the spring. Hold the cable and slide all at once.

mounting-screws

11.) Now we go back to the bike and loosen the manifold to head screws about one turn each. I’ve got a 7/32-inch allen key that’s cut down on the short end to fit between the carburetor and manifold. I’ve also crudely cut a ball end on the long end since I didn’t have a spare ball end key to butcher.

gantry-plate

12.) Once the carburetor mounting screws are loose, attach the gantry plate with the carburetor top screws and carefully tighten them. This aligns the carburetors to the plate.

mounting-screws

13.) With the carburetors linked together with the gantry plate, re-tighten the mounting screws with the cut down allen key.

top-screws

14.) Going back to the gantry plate, remove the top screws from one side and loosen the other so that the plate is loose on the carburetors.

new-slide

15.) Take one new slide assembly and carefully place it into the side of the gantry plate where you have removed the carburetor top screws. I say carefully because it is all too easy to snag the needle on the needle jet when inserting the slide. Take your time and it will drop into place.

replace-top

16.) Replace the top screws but don’t tighten them yet, then remove the screws on the opposite side and replace the slide assembly there. Once you have both slide assemblies in place, tighten the top screws evenly and snugly, but remember they have farther to go then they did originally, so not as much thread engagement with the bodies.

rotating-trunion

17.) Place the rotating trunnion in the actuating arm of the gantry, pull the slide cable up through the slot, making sure the locknut rests squarely between the shoulders of the trunnion. Repeat on the other side.

pull-cable

18.) Pull the cable up only far enough to slip it into the trunnion; it is possible to pull the slide up far enough to snag on the gantry top (ask me how I know that). That’s outside the operating range of the slide so not likely to happen in use.

take-slack

19.) Now that everything’s assembled you can take up the slack in the gantry with the new idle adjustment screw.

tighten-screw

20.) When you have the slack out of the new setup, back the old idle speed screws out about one turn each. They now have no purpose in speed regulation.

throttle-grip

21.) Fit the throttle grip end of the new throttle cable to your grip. Now is a good time to renew the grease in the assembly and check for good function of the assembly.

run-gantry

22.) Run the gantry end of the new throttle cable through the frame and attach the cable end barrel to the rightmost slot in the gantry arm.

replace-top

23.) Pull the cable back, attach it to the gantry and adjust it until there is minimal slack. Test for smooth operation and full return.

balance-tube

24.) Refit the balance tube, passing the left carburetor end through the hole in the gantry. Clamp it to the stub. A small outside diameter hose of sufficient strength fits better than the one I originally fitted.

twin-max

25.) If possible, before you refit the tank, check your carburetor synchronization. I used a TwinMax, but there are many options.

lumpy-idle

26.) In this case, the carburetor on the left was slightly more open than the right, resulting in a lumpy idle. Use a 9/32-inch or 7mm wrench to adjust the cable.

norton-commando

27.) with the tank and seat back on the bike you can’t even notice the change. What you will notice when riding is a quicker throttle response, so you’ll have to retrain your wrist to the new reality. MC

Adding an Oil Thermostat to Your BSA/Triumph Triple

two-thermostats
Two readily available thermostats for your BSA/Triumph triples: the Madigan (left) and the Tru-Cool (right)

BikeMaster logoThe Triumph Trident and BSA Rocket III were among the first production motorcycles fitted with an oil cooler. Due to the extra cost, no thermostat was fitted. For long, fast runs, that probably never mattered.But as these bikes have become used more for pleasure than utility, shorter, slower rides are more the norm. Because of that, the oil often doesn’t reach high enough temperature to boil out the condensation that occurs when the motor is warming up. It also takes longer for the motor to warm up with the oil constantly circulating through the cooler. Neither of these factors are good for the long term life of the oil or the engine. Fortunately oil thermostats are in widespread use in the trucking industry as regulators for transmission coolers. Also, triple specialist David Madigan has designed a thermostat specifically for the BSA/Triumph machines that incorporates a special feature, a feed pipe for the rocker boxes. We’ll show you how to install either the commonly available transmission thermostat or David’s specialized one in this How-To. A detailed explanation of the function of these thermostats is well beyond the scope of this article. For a good report of the function of both of these designs, refer to triplesonline.com, where you can find a report written by Richard Beard, who was present at the creation of the original cooler for the English triples. The Tru- Cool was sourced via Amazon, while the Madigan thermostat was purchased directly from David Madigan. The Tru-Cool was about $47 shipped, and the Madigan was about $80 with Priority Mail shipping paid by check. PayPal adds about $2.50.

disconnect-battery

1.) As always, disconnect the battery. Iput a rubber cap over the positive connector to prevent any accidental connections while working on the bike. Disconnect the gas lines from the petcocks to the carburetors too.

remove-gas-tank

2.) We begin by removing the gas tank; the oil lines we need to accessare under the tank, along the top tube. You’ll need a 1/2-inch socket and ratchet to remove the bolts holding the tank in place. An extension will be useful in removing the front tank bolts to avoid interference with the oil cooler.

rubber-buffers

3.) Keep track of the rubber buffers that insulate the tank from vibration and remember their placement.

once-line-off

4.) Once the tank is off, locate the feed and return lines. Most bikes I’ve seen have the engine to cooler feed on the left, return on the right. Double check to be sure. It’s easiest to trace the line that runs to the top of the oil tank; that’s the return line.

the-feed-side-of-cooler

5.) The feed side of the cooler has a tee connector running a 1/4-inchdiameter hose to the valve train to feed the valve rockers. If you’re using the Tru- Cool thermostat you’ll need to keep this in place.

disconnect-cooler-oil-hoses

6.) Disconnect the oil hoses, beginning at the cooler. Unless your bike has been sitting for a while, you will get some oil drainage from here.

disconnect-oil-hose

7.) Disconnect the oil hose at the cooler side of the tee.

remove-section

8.) Remove the section of hose, and remove the hose clamps for reuse.

loosen-clamp

9.) Loosen the clamps, beginning at the cooler. This hose won’t have much if any oil in it as it drains back to the oil tank.

return-line

 

10.) Loosen the clamp at the oil tank.

loosen-clamp-oil-tank

11.) Disconnect the return line from the cooler and the tank. Keep the clamps for reuse.

tru-cool-thermostat

12.) This is the Tru-Cool thermostat with what I hope is a helpful diagram of the flow. C is for cool temperature, showing the oil path through the body of the thermostat bypassing the oil cooler. Once the thermostat’s operating temperature is reached, the oil passes through the H for hot side and through the cooler before returning to the tank.

cut-segment

13.) Cut a segment of 7/16-inch oil line to connect the thermostat to the rocker feed. Use the existing rocker feed for this thermostat since it doesn’t have one of its own. Keep the feed on the cold side of the thermostat to avoid starving the rockers while the oil comes up to temperature. Tighten the hose clamp at the thermostat a little tighter to compensate for the smaller spigot on the thermostat. Use an existing clamp to hold the other end of the short hose to the tee.

cut-segment

14.) Connect one end of your 7/16- inch hose to the hot side of the thermostat and gently bend it toward the inlet of the oil cooler. When you have it situated to your satisfaction, mark it and cut the hose.

attaching-the-hose

15.) Using an existing hose clamp and one of your purchased clamps, attach the hose from the hot side of the thermostat to the inlet of the cooler. Don’t tighten the inlet clamp just yet, we’ll use it to prime/fill the hot side just before we finish. The clamp at the thermostat will require extra cinching to compensate for the smaller spigot on the thermostat.

attach-7-16

16.) Attach one end of your 7/16- inch hose to the hot side of the thermostat on the return side and gently curve the hose as you did on the inlet side. When you’re satisfied with the placement, mark and cut the hose.

cooler-thermostat

17.) Using an existing and purchased hose clamp, attach the hose to the cooler and the thermostat. Tighten both clamps. Again the clamp at the thermostat will require extra cinching to compensate for the smaller spigot on the thermostat.

 

hose-cinch-in-place

18.) Attach one end of your 7/16-inch hose tothe return spigot on the oil tank. Use an existing clamp to cinch it in place.

attaching-hose-thermostat

19.) As you did with the other lines, measure the hose length needed to reach the thermostat and mark and cut the hose. Once again, extra cinching is needed to seal the hose to the thermostat.

finished-installation

20.) The finished installation of the Tru-Cool thermostat.

madigan-thermostat

21.) As we mentioned in the introduction, the Madigan thermostat is purpose-built for the Triumph/BSA triples, incorporating a dedicated tap for the rocker feed that removes the need for the tee in the feed line. In addition, the spigots are the proper size for the 7/16-inch oil lines, so you don’t need to cinch the hose clamps down as hard.

remove-tee

22.) For the Madigan installation, follow steps 4-20, but omit step 13. Remove the tee on the feed side to the rockers.

disconnect-hose-rocker

23.) Disconnect the hose at the rocker feed.

holding-tee

24.) Remove the tee and hose and set aside.

attach-feed-line

25.) Attach the feed line to the spigot marked engine, rotate it into position and tighten the hose clamp.

attach-one-end-rocker-output

26.) Attach one end of the 1/4-inch hose to the rocker output spigot on the thermostat and measure the length needed to reach the rocker pipe. Once you are satisfied with the length, mark and cut the hose.

tru-cool-installation

27.) As you did in the Tru-Cool installation, measure the hose length necessary to reach from the tank to the return side of the thermostat and cut and clamp.

measure-hoses-for-inlet

28.) The same procedure as before will lead you to measuring hoses for the inlet and outlet of the cooler. Tighten the clamps at the thermostat and cooler.

prime-hot-side

29.) Regardless which thermostat you picked, the last step should be priming the hot side of the thermostat to the cooler. This is probably not really necessary, but doesn’t take long and avoids any big air bubbles.

madigan-unit-finished

30.) Here’s the finished installation of the Madigan unit.

KickMagic Pneumatic-Assist Starter Installation

 KickMagic system

As we get older, it’s a fact that our desire to ride our classic bikes can be in conflict with our ability to kickstart them. For some of our classic bikes, there are aftermarket electric start options. Some of the very last Triumphs, twins and triples, had electric starters. Until now though, there’s never been an aftermarket kit to retrofit earlier Triumph twins with an assisted kickstart. Those of us with artificial joints (hips, knees, etc.) who still want to ride but don’t want to risk physical injury due to kickbacks can finally find some relief. The Classic Bike Experience in Essex, Vermont, American importers of the Alton starter for Norton motorcycles, have developed an air-powered kickstart assist. Once installed, you will still be using the kickstarter, but the effort will be greatly reduced. We’ll show you how to install it on a 1968 Triumph Bonneville.

The installation of the electronic controls is fairly easy. Slightly more time consuming is the careful placing of the actuator itself. Keep in mind that though these machines left the factory fairly standard, years of modifications and restorations may have changed them. Be prepared to do some fitting. The instructions supplied with the kit are detailed and well illustrated.

It’s also helpful to have a compressed air supply available for testing this system during assembly. If you have a shop compressor, or even a small pancake compressor, that will do. Plan on a full day’s work, and as always, the relevant shop manual and parts diagrams are very helpful for parts identification and proper torque specs. The air bottle can be filled at your local scuba shop with high-pressure air. We had our bottle filled to 4,500psi before starting the installation.

For more information on the inspiration, design and prototyping of the KickMagic system, read an online exclusive story.

Watch this short video to see how easy our Bonneville started after installation.

KickMagic-peumatic-assist-starter

1. Here are the contents of the kit laid out before we get started. The leather satchel holds the air bottle. There are also several bags of nuts and bolts not shown.

disconnecting-battery

2. Start as always by disconnecting the battery. For this installation, it’s necessary to remove the battery tray so that the solenoid can be installed in the space below the tray. Continue and remove the side cover, gas tank and kickstart lever too.

removing-handlebar-bolts

3. Remove the bolts holding the handlebar P-clamps in place and raise the bars far enough to be able to pass the control cable socket under one side.

installing-control-panel

4. Install the control panel using the two socket head bolts from Bag D. Run the wiring harness forward under the bars and then left along the frame tube toward the side cover where they will connect to the control box. Use the supplied zip ties to tidy up the wiring.

test-fitting-solenoid-bracket

5. Test fit the solenoid bracket to the solenoid. Assemble the solenoid clamp and bracket to the frame down tube, leaving at least 1 inch of clearance under the battery box.

routing-inlet-hose

6. Route the 32-inch inlet hose up and back along the rear fender, clamping it to the rear fender brace with the supplied clamp. Thread the 20-inch outlet hose in front of the oil lines from the bottom of the oil tank and clamp it to the top engine mounting bolt using the supplied clamp.

connecting-main-harness

7. Connect the main harness to the solenoid assembly and proximity sensor assembly. Route the proximity sensor and cable to the right side of the bike following the outlet hose but leave it hanging for now. Run the power leads forward along the top frame tube.

fuse-lead

8. Our test bike has been converted to 12v negative ground, so our fuse lead is on the positive side of the battery. Regardless of how it’s grounded, red goes to positive, black to negative. In our bike, we connected the red lead to the white switched power lead on the ignition coil. The KickMagic is designed to work with both positive and negative ground electrical systems, just follow the instructions appropriate for your machine.

black-lead

9. The black lead was connected directly to a good frame ground, which we made from a ring connector and a female spade connector joined by a piece of copper wire.

supplied-rubber-strip

10. Fit the supplied rubber strip to the lip of the tool compartment. Carefully press the electronics module into the space formerly occupied by the tool roll. It’s a snug fit, so take your time and work it in place.

connecting-wireless-harness

11. Connect the wiring harness to the two terminals of the control module. The harness is keyed so you can’t make a wrong connection.

actuator-mechanism-mounts

12. The actuator mechanism mounts to the kickstart shaft and extends it so you can refit the kickstarter. It’s important to make sure the mechanism is a good sliding fit on the starter shaft. Due to years of use it may be necessary to use emery cloth, a file or a Dremel tool on the starter shaft to remove and smooth any burrs. Take your time and get it right without going too far. We were lucky; ours was in good shape.

tesing-electionics

13. Now that the controls are in place it’s time to test the electronics. Turn on the key and you should see the LEDs on the control panel sequence three times red, amber, green. Press the left button and the red LED should light. Hold the proximity sensor near a piece of steel and the amber LED should light. Press the right button and the green LED should light and you should hear the solenoid engage for five seconds.

boost-cylinder-mounts

14. The boost cylinder mounts over the engine plate, using the supplied spacers, and replaces the muffler plate. We found that the longest engine mounting bolt supplied was not long enough to reach through the proximity sensor mounting plate, through the rest of the kit and allow for a washer and the nylock nut on the inside so we used a longer bolt not shown here.

chain-alignment

15. After placing the booster assembly on the frame, snug down the bolts and carefully check the alignment between the boost cylinder and the chain. This is where the fitting we mentioned earlier will come into play.

attaching-air-hose

16. Attach the air hose to the boost cylinder using the supplied teflon tape and a 3/4-inch wrench.

installling-proximity-sensor

17. Install the proximity sensor and align it with the inner rim of the chainwheel. Pull the kickstart lever back slightly and arrange for a .040-inch gap between the sensor and the rim of the chainwheel.

installing-satchel

18. Install the satchel and air bottle and connect the air bottle to the air line. Turn the low pressure regulator knob until the pressure gauge reads about 50psi. Test the system again as in Step 13. This time you should see the air cylinder pulling the kickstart lever back.

final-calibration

19. Final calibration of the air pressure is trial and error. With too much pressure the air cylinder will try to initiate the kick without you. With too little you expend more effort than needed. After testing at 50psi (shown), set it to 85psi. That’s a good place to start and you can adjust up or down from there as needed.

test-start

20. Turn on the ignition, wait for the system to reset, then press the left button to arm the system. Slightly depress the kickstart to the point of compression, look for the amber light to be lit, then press the right button to charge the cylinder. With just an easy press on the kickstarter, the cylinder takes over most of the effort.

finished-installation

21. Here is the finished installation. At first glance you hardly notice the add-on, and it doesn’t look out of place when you do. If you need help getting your 650 or 750 Triumph twin started, this could be the answer.







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