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The Aermacchi Project, Part 6: In Which the Motorcycle Angels Come Through

Hallelujah! The mystery tool works!

This is the sixth installment of a series detailing Margie Siegal’s restoration of a 1973 Harley-Davidson 350 Sprint. Start at the beginning with Part 1.

“There’s a special cherub for motor-cyclists.”

— Dorothy Sayers, The Fantastic Horror of the Cat in the Bag*

The top end back together, it’s time to start in on the clutch. As delivered, the clutch took two hands to operate. Some of the problem had to do with the clutch cable, which was stuck in the housing, so I ordered a new clutch cable. Yes, Virginia, you can just call or email and mail order businesses will send you Aermacchi parts. Parts are available because all these folks are out racing Aermacchis. This is why you should support vintage racing.

Figuring the clutch cable was only part of the problem, I got out the service manual. The service manual says to take off the cover (not a problem, no rusty bolts) and then use your Special Tool No. 94670-66P to unscrew the five spring holders. After a little calling around I find out that there are five Special Tool No. 94670-66P in existence, each one owned by a crack shot with a bad temper. It’s obvious that my chances of getting one of these things is about as good as finding a live passenger pigeon.

The mystery tool — found in a can of other mystery tools.

I ask Leslie of Pro Italia for suggestions. He says to get out my Dremel tool and cut a slot in the center bolt so I can use a big screwdriver to loosen the spring holders. I was not looking forward to this, but located a promising screwdriver and figured I would practice on some extra bolts that were laying around. I started looking for bolts … and saw a can on a shelf with some odd tools sticking out.

One of those tools looked to be the right size and shape to unscrew those spring caps. Will it work?

Excited, I pulled out the tool. It needed a handle, easily supplied by clamping down on one end with a Vise-Grip. I uttered a short prayer to my Special Cherub (riding through the clouds) and put the tool on one spring holder. IT WORKED. I thanked my Special Cherub (who waved and hit the throttle) and loosened up all five spring holders. The square center part was just the right size for a 10mm wrench. Hallelujah.

Will the mystery tool work?

I have no idea what the tool is or how it got in the can. Asking around, it is apparently used to work sheet metal. If you have a later model Sprint (the earlier ones had a different clutch) you might check a sheet metal supply house for your very own Mystery Clutch Tool.

I carefully ease the springs out, put them in a Ziploc bag, and pull off the face plate. The inside of the clutch is sticky with oil. Isn’t the Sprint clutch supposed to be dry? I leave a message for Pro Italia. Leslie calls me back. Yes, the clutch is supposed to be dry, and the seal between the clutch and the primary case has apparently let go. He has seals and O-rings (again, thanks to the Aermacchi Classic Racing Team) but first I have to get the clutch basket out, which may require more Special Tools. Yet another hurdle, but I will get through it. Where is that cherub when I need her?

*Excellent mystery story from the 1930s, which starts with a road race between a Norton and a Scott Flying Squirrel.

Published on May 6, 2019

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