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Vincent Motorcycle - Miscellaneous Information

A collection of communications dealing with tidbits of information that may or may not be true or accurate but are enjoyable to read.  Minor condensation and editing.

Scroll down for Max Lambky's Restoration Tips... an entire series of Great Tech Articles.  2/24/10

Recomissioning a stored Vincent:  With rocker caps removed, also the big end quill and cylinder feed quil , and the long forward banjo bolt on the timing cover removed. And of course the main feed banjo bolt feeding the oil pump itself ,  ie at the bottom end of the large feed oil line, this loosened off before pouring oil into the tank above. Using a lever type oil can one begins by pumping a half dozen full strokes down each of all four pushrods tubes thus flooding the cam lobes and followers. This later drains down into the sump to be returned more quickly by the pump. Then before replacing the rocker caps you shoot a stroke over the top of each rocker arm to oil the inner rocker contact tips and thrust pads , and the lower valve stem and guide . In all near a pint can be injected by these means described above. All to the good in a dry motor.   Next one inserts the oil can spout through the forwards banjo bolt opening deeply enough to deliver oil into the filter element housing and pumps that at least half full , soaking the filter and cutting down on the time it takes before delivery of oil begins to the rods etc upon startup.  Replace that banjo bolt. Refill your oil can. Then you can fill the connecting rod big ends via the feed quill bore , even easier to simply do so via the small screw opening in the end of the quill, delivered through a clean shop rag, one layer across the opening to act as a seal. Here you can load up the timing cover passages via the top feed quill beneath the dome nut, replace .   With the forwards big feed line banjo now loosened off by several turns a shallow pan is placed below to catch the oil lost in the next all important step. Pour into the empty oil tank at least 2 or even 3 quarts of good oil, I prefer Valvoline Racing 20 / 50 wt , and watch it arrive down below.  Expect to see it blowing out air bubbles and what ever it's driving ahead of the fresh stuff before finally exiting as a clear solid stream into the drip pan below. Only then snug up the banjo bolt, knowing that you have provided fresh oil right to the oil pump entry port.   Check the transmission level and the primary chain case contents, draining off any excess via the level plug . That covers the motors immediate needs for firing up after long storage or being rebuilt.  Best to remove the spark plugs and rotate the motor before starting.  ( Sid  2/22/2012)

I noted years ago that most copper, steel, or SS oil pipes did not mate up with the rocker feed banjos very well, and like Jack, thought that a flexible pipe would allow the mating joint to self-align. I also noted that the standard pipe is prone to interfering with a plug spanner, and usually coming off worst.
I happened to have a good handful of old oil pipes in my "come in handy" pile, battered in various ways and not fit for use "as is", but selected the ones with restorable banjos that had at least 3/4" of reasonable oil pipe still attached. I fettled the upper and lower faces by rubbing on wet-and-dry emery paper, cut the pipes down to 3/4" and made them round again, then made a flexible section to fill the gaps. Obviously the ends with a threaded gland nut received either a suitable cut-off pipe end, or a new end. The pipe is from a UK company, Vehicle Wiring Products, and is SS overbraided fuel/oil pipe, fitted with SS ferrules crimped on. The pipe is a tight fit, and the ferrules even tighter, requiring much fiddling and often blood as the strands of SS go through the skin very easily. The crimp is probably unnecessary, but I am a belt-and-braces person. (For our colonial friends, you might say belt-and-suspenders, but to the English, suspenders hold up stockings on a lady's thigh). I made all the pipes a bit longer than the originals, which arcs the pipe upwards, and leaves room for the plug spanner. It now does not matter if you do hit it with the spanner, it just moves. All the banjos now sit down flat with ease, and, coupled with sealing rings around the ET189 washer and the Monobloc hybrid bolts, I have no oil leaks from that overhead section of the oil system.  Richard Sherwin 2/1/2012

Notes on the Picador engine: George Buck, former Works technician on the Picador program wrote 12 articles for MPH on same which appeared between Dec. 2000 and Feb. 2004   Here are a few more tidbits.  Starting: A portable low-voltage starter was used which engaged a dog coupling on the end of the drive side mainshaft. At the Works dynamometer, an hinged gate-type mounting held the starter so it could be moved into position or out of the way effortlessly.   Power Output: The program started with a standard Black Shadow engine with a compression ratio of 9.2 fitted with 2" x 46" twin exhaust pipes. Standard 1-1/8" Amal carburetors with 240 main jets and 37 degrees of spark lead. Fuel 91/96 octane. Corrected power at the crankshaft was 49 @ 4500/4750 rpm.

Eventually after incorporating Black Lightning specifications, but still on the same fuel and nominal 9 to 1 compression, the power increased to 69.5 hp. "Stub" exhausts had to be used on the plane, which were not helpful to power output. A modified diesel mechanical fuel injection set was used on the two BL front heads with 32 mm ports since only two running positions were necessary, startup/idle and full throttle.   Ultimately it was necessary to obtain 65 hp at the propeller shaft and to achieve this, the compression ratio was increased to around 11.5 and the fuel changed to 100/130 aviation gasoline. In final form for the production batch of a few dozen that were made, after a three-hour running-in period, each one would be tested for maximum power; and some of them would be run for an hour at full power and 5000 rpm!  This last would be very demanding and is, I gather, why the super-duty Picador crankshaft, with two-start oil pump worm, had to be developed. This had wheels of hard steel, 1-1/8" oversize mainshafts, Vibrac rods on caged roller bearings and a pressed-in crankpin.   When the batch of Picadors were eventually sold on the surplus market, the retail price was a modest 70 pounds, less 5 pounds for those that had been "tested" (the one-hour test?).

Power Train:  Mr. Buck told me that an improved ESA was used that probably became the Series D pattern. The steel crank sprocket drove a duplex 3/8" chain (not triplex like the mc) to an aluminum sprocket splined on a bevel gear shaft at 90 degrees with the prop shaft bevel gear. The ESA's flexibility was probably valuable in getting a smooth drive through to the prop shaft as very little trouble was experienced with these parts. The housing for the steel bevel drive gears was integral with the drive side crankcase. The prop and bevel gear shafts were supported in ball bearings. The timing side crankcase had an alloy stiffening plate on it so the complete crankcase assembly was very strong and stiff at the propeller end. The prop turned clockwise viewed from the front.  Bevel Gear Lubrication:  A filler plug is atop the driveside crankcase half, and only 1/2 (English) pint of engine oil was needed for lubrication. Any excess oil could escape into the primary chaincase which had a level plug like the MC engine.  ( Bill Hoddinott  1/15/2012)

Making Up Cables:  by Max Lambky  4/1/11

     A time will come in your restoration project when cables, i.e., brake, clutch, throttle, mag advance, compression release, and choke, will have to be replaced.  Ninety percent of old iron restorations require the manufacture of these cables from scratch.  Availability of cables across the counter for these old machines is practically nil.  New old stock items have long been depleted, and the limited need for such things as cables prohibit the manufacture and stocking of these items.  You'll find that supply houses stock the items needed to manufacture cables of any size, length, or configuration. 
     Persons involved in restorations normally have all the items necessary to manufacture a cable for any motorcycle that comes across their bench.  Items stocked would be inner and outer cable parts of various sizes, in order to accommodate everything from those dainty, gray cables on a Vespa motor scooter to the huge cables on some Harleys.  Other hardware required in the manufacture of cables, are end ferules to fit various sizes of outer housings, in line adjusters, various end nipples, in line lube fittings, and shoulder stops. 
     First, procure the needed material.  There are three different cable sizes for a Vincent restoration, choke, throttle, mag advance, and compression release one size, front brake  another size, and rear brake yet another.  These cables, both outer housing and inner cable, are bought separately in bulk rolls, usually 25 and 50 ft rolls.  Some vendors will cut you lengths from bulk rolls, but the service charge for doing this is usually prohibitive.  It's better to buy the 25 ft. rolls for a single motorcycle restoration.  Next, purchase an assorted cable make up kit.  A good one is Venhill, (part number CS-0435).  One feature of this assorted cable make up kit is the duplication of end nipples in brass as well as cad plated brass.  For concourse exhibiting of the bike, where brake, clutch, and compression release nipples show, this would be desirable, as they were cad plated when shipped from Stevenage.  A brass nipple could cost you points.  Procure a solder applicable to the job required.  There are various solders and fluxes which are in some ways complex.  Best bet for procuring the right solder and flux is to ask the clerk at your local welding supply house for his recommendations. 
     Before starting the make up of your cables, consider whether you're going to use a dual throttle or a two into one junction box such as came from the factory.  If you've increased the size of the carburetors in excess of 1 1/8" Shadow carburetors, check to see if the junction box has enough stroke, before tube locking prior to the full opening of the large bore carburetors.  If so, a dual throttle will most certainly be required.     
     Here are few points to ponder before making up your cable.  Cutting the inner cable and outer housing are important, so how complete your shop is as to hand tools and power tools, will indeed have an effect on the quality of the cable make up.  Two of the usual ways to part the outer housing of the cable are with a hand held end nipper, or a hand held power grinder, with a parting wheel attached.  When the outer cable is nipped to length with an end nipper, it usually distorts the end and requires some attention.  The reason for the attention is so that the end ferule will slip over the outer housing's protective cover without the cover sliding over the housing wire.  This is noted when the housing cover appears as an accordion, and balls up on the end of the ferule.  This also occurs when an individual tries to salvage ferules from factory manufactured cables, as these ferules are swedged tight on their end.  ferules are usually designed for fairly close tolerances.  Outer cables vary in size from manufacture to manufacture, so it's always a good idea to purchase your cable housing, cable ferules, and not the least, the cable itself from the same manufacturer.  When a hand nipper is used, dress the square steel cable housing flat.  If a power hand sander is used, sand flat at intervals, allowing cooling time, as too much heat will melt the protective outer housing.  It's a good idea to protect this outer housing by tightly wrapping the end on which you're working with tape.  After the housing end is flattened, take a Dremmal tool with a small cone grinder, and chamfer the inside diameter of the wire cable end.  This will remove the often sharp edge of the parted cable end that protrudes into the whole diameter of the cable.  If this isn't done, the inner cable will be ruined by the sharp edge, as the outer cable housing material is harder than the cable material.  When a power parting tool is used, follow the same procedure of preparation prior to ferule installation.  Ensure that the ferule, when installed, has found it's way all the way home.  This oversight often causes the problematic difference between cable housing length and cable length.  The cable and housing lengths and their relation to each other, is the most important item in making up a proper cable. 
    The next determination to make is whether or not an in line cable adjuster will be needed.  Carburetor changes often require in line adjusters, as some of them aren't equipped with cable adjusters.  It's almost assured that a cable adjuster should be installed in the compression release cable of a Vincent.  Also an in line adjuster will be required when a two into one junction box is used in the throttle cable make up.  If the carburetors have been changed and have no adjusters, in line adjusters will be required.  No in line adjusters will be required on the front brakes' cables or the rear brakes' cable.  In line cable adjusters are recommended, as they are commonly used on the choke cables.  If cosmetics and originality are desired, the shorter UK manufactured adjusters are preferred over the longer Italian and German ones. 
     Prior to parting the inner cable, a not absolutely necessary, but quite useful simple tool can be made out of a one by one square piece of soft wood, 6" long.  Cut a groove in the center with a band saw 5" long in the center.  The piece of wood will appear like a tuning fork.  Place the to-be-parted cable in the slotted piece of wood.  Place the wood and cable in a vise and squeeze.  The purpose of this simple tool is to prevent the cable end unraveling during the parting phase.  Part the cable flush with the wood tool. 
     If the above tools and material are acquired, and  the method understood, it's time to make up your cables.  All of the cables will be made up in the same way, using the following sequence.  For demonstration purposes, we'll make up the cable for the choke slide of the front carburetor of a 1 1/16" Amel carburetor. 
     First screw in the choke cable adjusting screw as far as it will go.  Then take your bulk outer housing cable, prep it's end, and install it's end ferule.  With the gas tank removed, and the dual choke levers located on handlebars where desired, insert the ferule end in the carburetor adjuster, and with an easy bend alongside the oil tank, tape the cable housing in place.  Continue to route the outer housing to the located choke lever.  Ensure the handlebars are turned to the right to their stop.  Mark the outer housing with a piece of masking tape at the length required for easy bends.  remove the bulk cable, and part housing at your mark.  Prepare end and install ferule.  Now with the outer housing laying on the workbench, insert the end of the bulk inner cable in either end of the outer cable.  When the end of the cable protrudes from the opposite end 6", mark the inner cable length at the opposite cable end at the ferule.  Remove cable bulk and part at your mark.  Select the right cylinder end nipple, and slip onto the end of the parted cable.  If the cable hasn't been frayed in any way, and you've used the aforementioned precautions, the end will slip onto the cable easily.  One end of all end nipples will have a recessed end of the through hole in order to allow cable tuliping prior to solder.  Another type of end nipple is in the shape of a donut.  The cable, in lieu of tuliping, is bent in a U in the center of the donut hole.  This method actually retains the end nipple to the cable after soldering better than the tuliping end type.  After the cylinder end is soldered, clean up any excess solder with a fine file. 
     Marry the cable in the choke slide.  Install the slide in the carburetor.  Ensure that the carburetor sleeve has also been installed in order to facilitate alignment of the choke slide.  Also ensure that the choke slide is installed with it's spring.  Slide the outer housing over the exposed cable.  Reroute the outer cable as previously routed.  Remove the dual throttle levers by removing their retaining cap and friction disc spring.  Insert the outer housing ferule in the stop bore of the choke lever assembly.  Place the choke lever on it's spindle, and by sight determine where the lever end nipple should be located on the cable.  Add 3/16" to the length of the cable that's protruding from the nipple location.  Mark the inner cable.  Remove the cable for soldering.  Before soldering, install end line adjuster.  This is done by parting the outer housing 3 to 4" from the lever end.  With the adjuster to be used, and it screwed completely together, ascertain the ferule bores on each end as to their distance from each other.  Remove this amount from the outside housing length.  Dress housing ends and install end ferules.  Install the three parts of the cable's housing, adjuster towards lever end.  Select proper end nipple.  Install nipple on cable.  Bend or tulip cable as necessary.  Solder nipple end to cable.  Dress excess solder and any possible protruding cable from nipple circumference.  Place nipple end in cable lever and test for free movement.  If there is no free movement, dress nipple with a file until free movement is achieved.  All cables can be made up in the same manner.  One other thing.  Some early models had a lube fitting installed in the cable, at the apex of the bend on the rear cable.  There is scant availability of these cables. 
     Remember to always route the cable the same way when making them up.  The reason for this is that the outer cable housing grows in length at each bend in the routing.  The sharper the bend, the more the growth. 

Soldering cables: The important thing is to ‘tin’ the inside of the nipple. Then stick the cleaned cable through. Then solder the cable to the nipple. Then spay out the cable end good then solder that mushroomed Cable. Juel Edwards  9/30/11
Exhaust pipe leaks at the heads are sometimes a real pistol to make right. Here are some suggestions. With the exhaust pipes removed, inspect the gasket seating surface in the heads. Three things to look for--carbon build up on the surface, a bad casting with a porous surface, or a brinelled dibit in the surface, caused by a one time loose exhaust pipe. Determine whether the gasket's outer diameter is a good fit in the head exhaust pipe bore. Sometimes a small diameter gasket has to be super glued to the exhaust pipe flange, so as to provide as much gasket surface as possible. Gaskets made from high temp composition material sometimes lack the elasticity to mate the two metal parts, the exhaust flange, and the heads flange surface. Copper exhaust gaskets, the kind that have asbestos centers, are the best to take up irregular surfaces. Here's another good thing you might do. Take the exhaust pipe apart, removing the rear cylinder exhaust pipe from the front exhaust pipe. Remove the muffler. Now take the rear exhaust pipe with gasket, and tighten the assembly in the head. You're checking to determine whether there are enough threads on the nut to tighten the exhaust pipe before tube locking of the threads. When tightened, you shouldn't be able to move the exhaust pipe by hand. Do the same with the front exhaust pipe. In the past I've occasionally had to use two gaskets to achieve a no blow by condition due to thread tube locking. The last suggestion is to leave the exhaust clamp, which marries the front and rear exhaust pipes loose. Only tighten after the two exhaust pipes have been tightened in their head's bore.   Max Lambky  10-24-10

Oilite bushes, such as those inside Vincent camshafts and forks , start off with the sintered metal 'sponge' having the voids full of oil.  That cannot be guaranteed after many years on the shelf - the Oilite bushes tend to dry out.  That is particularly noticeable if the bushes have been in contact with absorbent material such as a paper bag.  When British Leyland sold Workshop Manuals for their cars such as the  MG-B, they included a recommendation that before installation, Oilite bushes be submerged and soaked in oil at room temperature for 24 hours, though if pushed for time, a couple of hours in hot oil would be OK.  This was to ensure the Oilite bushes were full of oil before start up in service.   For parts which would be lubricated in service, the normal oil to be used in service was recommended for the pre-soak.  Of course, if you plan to have parts stored for years, you could avoid this last minute activity by storing the bits containing Oilite bushes in contact with oil.  David Jones  3/26/10
To determine
Top Dead Center as accurately as possible, I:
- knock the guts out of an old spark plug;
- Insert a suitably - sized clear plastic tube and glue it in place with silicone sealant. Use about 8 ft,. of tubing.
- Mount the plastic tubing on a board ( 4 x 1/2 ) x 5ft tall) in such a manner as to form a 'U' with about 4ft,. of vertical up and down, thereby creating a manometer;
- Fill with water;
- Screw the plug in when the piston is approx. at TDC. You can determine this by inserting anything rigid into the spark plug hole while turning the engine over by hand;
- Determine TDC by slowly bringing the piston up to, then beyond, then back to, TDC, then back to the desired degrees of BTDC for setting the points. Note: At TDC, the water in the column will be at it's highest point. Of course, use a degree wheel connected to the crank pin for determining exactly how many degrees plus or minus you are.   Easy to do.
I have found this to be  the best means of determining TDC, as the slightest variation in piston travel will manifest itself in inches of H2O travel.    Michael McCartney  3/22/10
Chain tips: Always order a longer precut length of chain than is needed-say 116 links, and shorten to suit your needs. After positioning the wheel in the rear fork slots feed the new chain around {pulling it through with the old one helps a great deal} after due consideration for axle position, correct adjustment and play-cut off the excess. Think over all these all these important factors several times and then cut once. Easy to err, difficult to correct. And usually costly.  Don't ever use cheap industrial grade chain as it is not built for high linear speed {US made Diamond and Duckworth} gave many headaches doing just this . It quickly appears to be stretching in spots but this is actually internal wear on the links and pins if your sprockets are well made and round . Once this condition sets in it will rapidly destroy your expensive sprockets.  Actual chain wear is easily spotted by lifting with the fingers at the very back of the sprocket when fresh chain will lift barely at all showing no gap beneath it and the teeth roots . A very small gap is normal wear but if it rises to show a gap of half the tooth height this is complete junk and should be immediately replaced  as rapid sprocket wear is already beginning.  Acceptable lubrication is 90 wt. Hypoid gear oil applied with a stiff half inch wide brush held against the rollers both sides as the wheel in slowly rotated using your other hand. No need to slop it on but just wet it clear across with the brush , going around 2 or 3 times over the entire chain length. Then spin the wheel to help it enter the roller end gaps and so reach the innerpins.  Now remove the excess on the surface by rolling it very slowly as a bit of waste cloth is lightly gripped around the chain midway at the bottom. Be Very wary of ones hand being dragged into the teeth. That sucker WILL try to get you !

I stupidly lost the first digit of my right forefinger just this way. My '49 Matchless Twin gobbled it up just like that !   Never do this chore with the motor idling over in low gear, the beast Will grab the brush And your fingers in one moment of terror and pain that lasts a lifetime.  You have been warned, its only to be done with a dead motor while Very slowly rotating the wheel with the other hand.   Note, there is a second bit of this material containing useful tips you should read.  Only a recognized Brand of motorcycle chain is suitable . Ignore bargan offers . Sid  Biberman  2/24/10

Chain tips:  It's much easier to slide in the master link with the two ends of the chain positioned around the backside of the sprocket as the teeth keep the end holes alligned allowing easy entry. And the outer master link loc plate Must lie with its open end trailing - not leading - as the wheel turns forwards.   Nose leading - ass trailing. This ensures that this thin spring steel loc plate is not snagged an so pulled off should it brush against anything but is  instead forced on more firmly. Very important this tiny detail and often overlooked.   I like to start the entire fitting operation with the twin adjusters both identically set as follows - screwed out towards the axle exactly 4 half turns From Flush in the slots root. This allows for minor adjustment should it prove necessary, giving sufficient chain slack should this prove to be needed . This could ruin your whole day if overlooked, if  indeed your carefully cut chain prove too taut.  Minor production errors can play tricks - rarely useful ones !
A minor point - new original rear sprockets were usually painted black, seemed to be the same tough stuff used on chassis and tank etc.  It soon wore away on the loaded surfaces but really looked nice along the sides when delivered .   S.M. Biberman  2/24/10
Soldering Cables: The one item I have not mentioned yet is probably the most important, the solder. We have all used in a pinch not knowing any better the old standby solder readily found in our garages. Electrical 60/40 Tin-Antimony-Lead solder, plumbers solder made of 50/50 silver leadless or 60/40 tin-lead solder. Silver, Zinc, Indium [ a silvery malleable fusible chiefly trivalent metallic element that occurs especially in sphalerite ores and is used especially as a plating material, in alloys, and in electronics ] and Cadmium are also used in combinations in the making of various solders; each has their pluses and minuses. Most of these are flux core solders but that does not mean you can not add your usual paste-flux to this process. These types of solders have a relatively low tensile strength of 4500-6000 psi. Now just because the above plumbers silver leadless solder says silver, does not mean that it contains a good amount of silver content, maybe 6-9 % at most. Silver solder is by far the best way to join the fittings in this case, inner cables to brass fittings. There are many silver solders on the market, used for a multitude of purposes, most with heat ranges around 900-1400 F. degrees working temperatures. This depends on content and percentages of alloy material. This is too high for our use when cable making. Infact it is best NOT to use an open flame- torch on inner cables, but a very good soldering iron is needed. Some of you may have your soldering pots and used them for decades, and they work.

          But silver solder does come in a lower temperature heat range for gas type torches without oxygen and iron use. I prefer this product MG120, also known as MG120A. This product‘s working temperature is 430 degrees, perfect for soldering iron use. The MG product has 3x the tensile strength as these electrical types. These MG products use a flux core and cleaning agent for the preparation of bonding. The MG120A has a syringe applicator for the cleaning agent whereas the MG120 is a bottle. It is available at welding supply stores.

          The key to a strong union is wetting and capillary attraction. Wetting is the ability of the molten solder to coat the strands surface. Capillary attraction is its ability to flow or wick. I prefer to ‘’tin’’ the inner cable end after I have slid my end fitting on to the inner cable first. This allows you to ‘’work over’’ /mushroom or flair the multiple ends more easily to prevent the dreaded pull-out. Pull the inner cable back to the fitting and solder. Trim or file the fittings when done.

          Remember to lubricate all your non Teflon lined cables once a year by buying one of those simple spray type lubricators available at any good local m/c shop. I use a spray can of white lithium grease. These devices clamp over the outer cable end, have a small rubber hole built in and the grease squirts inside, down the cable housing through to the end. If you use a junction box with a single throttle cable to twin cables make sure you protect that junction from dirt and debris, clean and lube with light grease once a season along with all of your other cables.

Messer Company  -  MG Welding Products
N94W 1455 Garwin Mace Drive
Menomonee Falls, WI.   53051    USA
(262)  255-5520  --  (262)  555-5542  fax#
Hardness 15    10 kg/ mm2   approx 15,000 psi
Melting point 430 degrees F   221 degrees C
Available in :: 1/16’’,  3/32’’,  1/8’’    >>>> use 1/16’’ for cables

Jim Wilson  1/24/10

The Peeled Eye
Reasonable Mods For Your Vincent
By Carl Hungness           January 3, 2009

 The very first thing this reporter has to do is give a hearty “Thank You” to all the Vincent folks who have contributed to this article. Your comments and knowledge are central to its existence.
If you are new to the world of Vincent motorcycles and actually plan to ride your machine there are several reasonable modifications you will want to consider to make it a more tractable vehicle.
 One of the first things you should have is a basic library. You should consider buying;
Spare Parts List; Rider’s Manual; Know Thy Beast by E.M.G. Stevens; Vincent by Paul Richardson; Forty Years On & Ten More Years (two separate books) by Jeff and Lyn Bowen plus a copy of Original Vincent by Jacqueline Bickerstaff if you can find one. Both Bowen books are available from VinParts and VOC Spares Co. has Ten More Years. Jacqueline’s book is now a collector’s item and needs to be reprinted.
 If for example, you need to adjust your gear change mechanism the advice you seek will probably point you toward “Richardson” page 76. Stevens’ work is not only a thorough treatise that dissects the machine, it will provide you with a reference to locate every screw thread and a materials list.
 The possibility exists you may want to become knowledgeable about virtually every segment of your machine, the problems and modifications that have been enacted before you. You will find no better reference source than the two books listed by the Bowens. They are a compilation of MPH articles over the past half- century that will give you an education unequalled in any other books on the subject. While there is no substitute for hands on experience you’ll find those who have gone before you have written about your machine and have been where you are going. For example, you may not know how to set your timing to re-install your magneto. You’ll find a step-by-step article on how to locate top dead center, the first procedure necessary to accomplish your goal.
 One of my goals is this article is to provide, most especially the person new to the world of Vincents, an overview of the machine and mods that can be easily accomplished. Let’s start at the front of the machine with our braking system.
 The twin drum brakes on the Vincent were considered to be the best available when the Series “B” twin was introduced in 1946. The Motor Cycle magazine did a road test in May of 1947 and reported a stopping distance at 30 mph of 26’ on dry pavement. The Series “A” machine stopped in 27’ reported an Aril 1938 edition of the same magazine. Your reporter had measurements of 22’, 22.5’, 26’, and 33’ in four attempts on my own Series “C” and flat-spotted a rear tire during the tests. From 50 MPH I stopped at 64.5’, 60’ and 75’.
 The Vincent brakes have been the subject of countless articles on how to make them more efficient but at the end of the day, replacement appears to be the only method of achieving modern day measurements. In this reporter’s estimation, riding a stock drum-braked machine in a world of disc-brake automobiles is a dangerous proposition made even worse if you ride two-up.
 Several members have installed disc brakes and it is outside the scope of this article to detail the necessary modifications. One Dave Lambert made a professionally produced kit to accomplish the task. This reporter rode Matt Biberman’s Shadow equipped with the Lambert discs and it worked to expectations. It was perfect. Late news tells us Dave has not sold a kit in over a year and is not actively seeking business. Nevertheless he may be contacted at: 132 Beaufort St., Derby  DE21 66BB   U.K. Phone: 44 332 369-047 The chance exists he can direct you toward disc installation as he has solved the problems in a craftsman like manner.
 Within the past three years we have seen two additional sets of brakes on the market for our bikes. The first set is a twin leading shoe conversion  advertised frequently in the MPH. It is made by Vincent Speet and in a note from rider Peter Volkers he tells me he was able to stop in 16.8’ from 30 MPH and 37.5’ from 50 MPH utilzing this set-up. As noted, Peter is a journeyman rider who has an earned reputation of being extremely proficient and fast. This reporter knows from experience to pull a very good front brake on full chat takes perfect conditions, and a good dose of bravado. Peter used only the front brake in his test.
The point is, the twin leading shoe brakes will stop your Vincent rapidly if you have the ability to use them. Former MPH editor Robert Watson was demonstrating the efficiency of his twin leading shoe brakes and literally locked up the front wheel at 60 MPH with two-finger pressure. Robert is another accomplished fast rider who wants the insurance of knowing he can, if necessary, lock the front wheel. The new brakes are not as efficient as discs, but from all reports they seem to be the next best thing.
 This system uses a dual pull cable system, supplied. You won’t utilize the balance beam (F55) as it is no longer necessary. Vincent Speet also reports he will have old style levers available soon as well.
 Information on the twin leading shoe brakes is available at Vincent makes regular and Lightning style plates for his units and they are priced at 890.00 and 1150.00 Euros respectively.
 Our own VOC Spares Company has obtained the exclusive distributorship on the latest braking system for our bikes. New drums and backing plates which are 8” in diameter are now available. A fine color photo of the new set designed by Hugh McAllister is shown in MPH 716. These brakes deliver a hundred percent increase in friction (braking) area. To date, I have not read of a report of their actual performance and stopping distance. Like the twin leading shoe brakes, they require no modification to the bike for installation other than making some new cables.
 We understand one Eric Kruse of the German section has made some Shadow drums in aluminum with the liner shrunk in. He has used Ford Fiesta brake drums for the liners but we’re sorry to report I have no additional information on his work. E mail for the German section is
 I won’t address our rear brakes because by far and away, the bulk of your stopping power on a vehicle in forward motion is on the front. Of course discs can be fitted to the rear as well and Dave Lambert also made a kit to do so.
 For those of you who are using the Lightning style backing plates Russell Hartley makes some beautiful air scoops with etched gauze. Ordering info is below:
Yes they fit straight onto Lightning back plate I have sold some to owners who have fitted my scoops straight onto the club’s racing alloy plates.I usually sell 1 scoop  I gauze and 3  2BA cheeshead screws For £23.50 (You will need 3/16 whit screws for alloy plate I use 2BA or 5mm for the steel plate as I have sold some sets to fit on other bikes ) Alloy air scoop £15.00; S/S gauze £7.50; contact  Phone 01767 650049  UK telephone

 Jeff Bowen, for one, has successfully fitted a set of Grimecas to his bike and other twin leading shoe set ups can also be made to work, but none are a direct bolt on operation. For those interested in the Grimecas see
 Moving upward on the machine we can address our shock absorbers. While high mileages have been obtained with the stock shock absorbers, it must be noted our originals were among the first “airplane” style hydraulic shock fitted to a motorcycle. I believe the first bike fitted was a Velocette and if memory serves correctly our engineer Phil Irving created that shock. You should remember hydraulic shock absorbers were new to the automotive world in 1946 and the first ones had their share of teething problems.
 You’ll find numerous articles on how to refill your stock shocks as well as cures to prevent them from leaking in 40 Years On. Personally, I recommend replacement of both front and rear and I believe doing so along with attention to our springs and rear suspension method, especially on the Series B & C machines, can transform them into great handling modern day vehicles. This is not to say the stock shock absorbers will not perform adequately when in perfect condition but it is difficult to argue with more modern technology that is now available to us.
 For years one of the most popular shocks to fit to the Vincent has been the Koni and I believe it is now called an IKON. While positive comments may abound rider Mike Alexsander noted,”mine didn’t fit without grinding the front mount and on the rear I found they bottomed out on the smallest of bumps. They were returned and money was refunded.” Contact info is:
Recommended Service
1064 Revere Ave
San Francisco CA 94124 USA
P: 415 738 9441 (Dave -  Call ofter 1pm West Coast time)

 The Armstrong brand has also been proven to be reliable. There is another shock named AVO as well that has gained popularity. The last I heard from supplier Russell Kemp had him installing one of the AVO units on his own machine so this reporter is taking for granted the brand is well-respected as the engineering oriented Jeff Bowen was the first to install the AVO’s on his machine and penned an article for the minor mods necessary to fit. Part # for the AVO is PA 100/75. See MPH 657, Oct. 2003 for a report. Contact info:
A note from Chris Chant says: My 'C' Rapide came to me in the late 80's with Armstrong units fitted. 30k miles later they still perform nicely along with series D front (softer) springs.
My recollection is that Koni's were good on the rear but rather too stiff on the front for solos.
A note from Steven Lindbloom states: I personally do not think stock shocks can be made to work well and always have wondered what the high priced rebuilds available now actually do besides a better seal. I did a lot of experimenting with them at one time, including grafting valve bits from various later Girling shocks on, but they never seemed to work all that well.
The inspiration for the Thronton system seems to have been a comment by PI in one of his books, that with good damping it is possible to greatly reduce spring rates, and greatly improve ride and handling. He probably realized this too late for Vincents to take advantage of it, and later improved shocks like the Konis were always limited by the stock, heavy-rate springs. It was not until the Thornton that someone got around to matching softer longer springs and very good dampers, with impressive results. Thortons shocks are made by WP (Works Performance), but I believe the specs for that particular model are proprietary to Thornton and can only be had from them, but there are other Vincent people who have worked out their own specifications with WP. Similar softer, longer springs are occasionally available from other sources much cheaper, but unless they are used in conjunction with really good dampers may disappoint..
Konis were just shocks, no spring, same size as stock ,not terribly sophisticated, just a fairly crude adaptation of a standard design to fit the Vincent, rather than something really engineered  for the machine. But late 50's rather than 40's technology so still quite an improvement over stock. Lack of machine-specific engineering is actually, in my opinion, the problem with just about all the Vincent shocks, with a possible exception of the WP since their modular method of handling valving etc. offers a lot of flexibility for customizing, given a discerning customer to handle the road part of the development.
Spax, who has always had a good if somewhat cultish repute for their auto shocks was induced to make shocks for the Vin once, but abruptly pulled out after they were sued by a customer, feeling the potential market just wasn't large enough to justify the risk lawsuits. They had a recall, but many owners chose to keep them. They were externally adjustable, but other than that fairly comparable to the Konis.”
 Personal experience has taught me the shock absorbers supplied by Laney Thornton are superb at both front and rear.  Because I was involved in the auto racing industry for three decades I had access to a shock dyno and tested mine after 25,000 miles. They were in perfect condition, and I have covered an additional 40,000 miles thus far with them.  Again, the technology for great shocks just wasn’t available at the time the factory produced our machines.  The Thorntons are distributed by Dave Molloy who can be contacted at Thornton is a regular MPH advertiser.
 Here’s a note from Dave Molloy from my research:
 Carl, thanks for you inquiry. The basic features of the Thornton suspension system are two fold: 1) the springs are about 20% softer rate than standard but are longer to give more preload to maintain the ride height and 2) the shocks or dampers are a modern design manufactured exclusively for us by Works Performance and are valved differently front to rear to match the differing spring rates. We do make front springs and I make the 1" longer inner spring boxes to help align the inners and outers at full extension which is 1" longer than standard Vincent springs. As of this date the standard front and rear kit is $840 and the longer spring boxes are $120 a pair extra. Dampers alone are $290 each.

 Our German friends have written to me and stated:
 “Our program includes gas shock absorbers made in the original style as well as improved cylinder heads, a combined dynamo/-ignition system etc.
The website to check is
Information supplied by:
Michael M. Burkert
Ernst G. Ahrens GmbH
Wendenstrasse 29 - 20097 Hamburg Germany
Telephone ++49-40-232384  -  Facsimile    ++49-40-232387
Homepage:  -  E-Mail:

 Your reporter has not seen the gas shocks (or other products) noted in the above e mail but we have no doubt the craftsmanship is first-class. I am surprised and saddened the German products have not been advertised, or publicized in our MPH pages. First, we know our editors will gladly publicize new products for our bikes, and secondly it seems only reasonable anyone making a Vincent part would surely want to inform riders world-wide and the MPH is the natural publication to do so.
  Rider David Dunfey has seriously addressed the spring questions by actually having some new front springs made. His are 14”in length and had two rates made: 75lbs/in and 110lbs/in. Comparatively the Thorntons are around 50-60 lbs/in spring rate. David’s theory is that the stock springs must be compressed at least 3” which means they have a tendency to extend the front end. The shorter springs want to “settle” down from full estension. The 75 lb springs were designed for the Comet and the 110 lb for the twin. In practice David’s springs have proven successful, plus they can be installed without the use of a compression tool.
 David didn’t make the springs as a business venture but some are available through Sam Manganaro's E-mail at hrd998@verizon .net. David is hoping the club or Thornton will be impressed enough to make them available.
 Colin Jenner of Conway Motors, Ltd. has provided me with an impressive list of mods he makes for the Vincent which includes the longer Pettieford springs popular for decades as well as alloy racing type brake plates and he notes he makes, “modified and improved Vincent dampers.” He also supplies heavier front brake cables with longer adjustors. The Pettieford springs are the same wire diameter as stock, just longer.
 Veteran Vincenteer Justin Mackay Smith (our current advertising manager) had some longer springs (and rear spring boxes) made that work perfectly on the reporter’s bike. Justin was not interested in going into the spring business but it is entirely possible to clone what he made as I had springs wound to my specs in England once. He can give you the specs.
 Concours judging aside, we have often heard the very reasonable argument stating basically if a particular technological improvement had been available at the time, the originators of our machines would have included it.  By the mid-Fifties when the last Series C and the D were produced, there had been improvements in shock absorbers and the disc brake was at least being introduced on some racing vehicles. Thus to this reporter it is not heresy to make said modifications. Equally as important to this rider was the change in the method of supporting the rear of the seat. Our B’s & C’s had the seat hooked directly to the rear swing arm assembly which caused the back of the seat to rise and fall half the distance the rear wheel traveled up and down. The factory fully sprung the rear wheel on the Series D by running struts downward which ultimately connected to the engine. Countless owners of the prior series machines have copied the arrangement and have seen marked improvement in ride and handling. Personally, I wouldn’t want to ride a machine with the stock struts after experiencing the handling after deleting them. It is a simple mod to make struts and connect them to the FT 108 Footrest Plates. On my own machine I spent countless hours fabricating a goofy looking battery carrier that ultimately cantilevers its way over the rear mudguard, holds two passengers and the largest panniers I have ever seen on a Vincent.
 Speaking of panniers there is a great looking photograph of what are called stock Vincent panniers on page 219 of Know Thy Beast. While painfully small their design and construction is superb. Member Derek Sayer super sized the design and has produced a few sets that are equally as gorgeous, but we haven’t seen them advertised in the past several years. It is of course still possible to fit the once very popular Craven bags. However, even author E.M.G. Stevens said of the Craven mounting system they are, “positioned too far back and too high, whilst the system lacks the necessary rigidity.”
 Consequently you are pretty much on your own when it comes to fitting a set of panniers to your machine. This reporter believes you will find the possibilities much greater if you do in fact unhook the rear of the seat from the swing arm assembly and consider building brackets that can be mounted to the seat itself. You will undoubtedly achieve a better handling vehicle by allowing the rear wheel to be fully sprung.
 As we are riding what the designers called “a high-speed long-distance touring machine” it seems to this reporter to be a sad state no one has come up with an improvement for fitting a large set of panniers to our bikes.
 The original ¼” steel balls, 20 of them are required for each bearing and upon occasion the bottom cup has been found to be loose. Christian Patzke has created a tapered roller conversion kit for all Vincent H.R.D. head races and reports he has sold over 100 of the units that are definitely a good idea to install. A minor amount of material must be removed at the bottom of the bearing housing to allow the cage to clear. This can be machined, or even ground with a rotary hand tool. His e mail is and his website is
 The Vincent, along with a multitude of other motorcycles can experience a phenomena known to motorcyclists as a “tank slapper” whereby the front wheel will shake violently from side to side. I believe the engineering term for this condition is dynamic coupling. You will feel as though the machine is a piece of spaghetti attempting to throw you off into oblivion. Many of us have experienced this uncontrollable condition and the very first question asked is, “Did you have the steering damper tight?” Well, not tight, but just biting. You don’t want to ride your Vincent with a loose steering damper. In fact, many have installed an exterior steering damper in the form of a gas-filled shock that ultimately attaches to the front cylinder head. You’ll find a how-to-do it in Forty Years On. These wave like forces pass through the machine vertically, horizontally and laterally and are deadly. You want your front end in perfect condition.

 Alternators & Ignition
 Electrical System: The reader should bear in mind this reporter is not an electronically oriented individual but one who has simply paid attention to the victories and vagaries of the Vincent electrical system, especially after experiencing significant problems with the standard system.
 We know the standard voltage regulators of yesteryear have been much improved upon by the advent of the solid state regulator. I can report from experience my old Miller generator performed brilliantly for about a decade after having it rewound along with the utilization of a Ken Bell regulator. Sadly, Ken has passed away and after many years of usage so did the regulator I installed on my bike. It ran a 60 watt quartz halogen headlight bulb and my heated hand grips admirably. I did not find a replacement that worked as well, so I ultimately opted for a unit known as a McDouglator.
 The McDouglator was conceived by John McDougal when a friend brought him a Kubota tractor alternator. John devised a gear case to drive the unit that utilizes a set of gears that literally clone our cam drive gears. I believe he has sold well over one hundred units that have performed perfectly. I know mine has and have heard nothing but great reports on the installation. John doesn’t advertise and the only way I know of contacting him is via phone at 604 327-1019 or write to him at 82 E. 50th Ave., Vancouver, BC  V5X 1A2. There is a detailed article about the unit on Of course the alternator is 12 volts and since it was designed for industrial usage it is trustworthy on our bikes and is a direct bolt-on unit with no modifications. John uses the Kubota regulator and he has attempted to destruct it in all manner of operations and it has passed the most rigid tests. The regulator is large and won’t come close to fitting in the old stock case, so I mounted mine under the battery carrier and put the stock one, empty in its usual position so the passer-by glances and doesn’t notice the whole plot has been modified.
 One of the most popular generating units on the market today for our bikes has been developed by Paul Hamon and is called the Alton. Paul has had, I believe three incantations of his charging system and the latest has received magnificent praise from users world-wide. Paul also supplies a modern rectifying regulator (negative earth) and promises a two year replacement warranty. I can report from experience Paul is a gentleman of the first order to do business with and we in the motorcycle world are fortunate to have a man of his dedication and craftsmanship interested in our hobby. Contact at: Phone: (Int’l) +33 298 283575
 There is yet another reliable system available developed by Norman Walker and Dick Sherwin that uses a Citroen 2CV alternator which will provide 12 volts and 30 amps. We have not seen the kit advertised but have heard many testimonials as to its efficiency. The alternator is belt driven and of course bears no resemblance to the stock set-up. Contact information is:

Dick Sherwin [] and NormanWalker []

 There are numerous voltage regulators on the market which will provide good service but it is outside the scope of this article for me to compare them all. I refer the readership to the popular website and search under “Electrics” to gain some knowledge. Overall, most of our Vincent suppliers can make regulator recommendations and many are supplying units that fit into the stock Miller cases. It has been reported some units actually leak amperage and may cause you a dead battery within a fortnight, so research is suggested.
 Hartmut Weidlich, versatile machinist and Vincent rider who hails from Germany notes: “If an Alton is used any regulator from a Jap bike that has permanent magnets in the flywheel such as RD 250/350 or SR/XT 500 will work.”
 Doug Wood the man who invented the jtan e mail service dedicated to the Vincent is also a magneto and dynamo restoration man. He notes some of his customers still insist upon restoration of their old electro-mechanical regulators as opposed to replacing them with the modern units.

 Given our modern technology there are more options for lighting your vehicle than ever before. Member Paul Goff at: (and a frequent MPH advertiser) offers us an alternative to fitting a modern reflector in the standard headlight shell by supplying a line of quartz halogen bulbs with the original Bayonet cap and British pre-focus bases. They snap into the existing headlight and provide much better lights. They are available in both 6 and 12 volt versions. Paul also supplies LED conversions for the stock tail-lights that are brighter. He supplies daytime pilot bulbs as well.
 There are several reflectors you can fit into either the 6 ½” or 7” headlight shells that will accept quartz halogen bulbs. Member Jim Wilson has researched many units and gives me the following:
 The Hela 7003 and the Puma 440-498 0638 will work in the “T” clip variety while the 7” split rim will accept the Hella # 1A6 003 402 812 12 volt unit 154 or # 70003 fits the 6 1/2:” “T” clip while the # 70476 fits the 6 ½” “T” clip. The only contact we have for Puma is in the US at info
 Your reporter found that a Honda V-45 unit from a 1982-83 bike snaps into the original clips with no modification. However the outer glass on this unit is caulked in place and must be broken out first. I have run mine for about 15 years. I am told a Suzuki GS500E from the mid 1990’s will also fit and also a Honda Super Dream unit # CB2 50N for UK applications that dips to the right.
 Steven Lindbloom reminds me that you can use any 7” light unit you like in the 6 ½” shell if you utilize the Dietz reproduction rims.
  Jim Wilson also reminded me that Chicago Section member Paul Holdsworth and Glen Shriver made a deal with Radiantz to make 50 LED conversions for the tail-light assembly a few years back  that had 46 dual filament 12 volt bulbs and three white bulbs for the license plate.The section sold all the units but Radiantz may still supply the internals. Contact info at:
Phone: 877-469-4241; Mail to: 96106 Ferrelo Rd. Brookings, OR 97415 USA
We include the following only because this unit has such a high amp hour rating and will fit inside an Exide case. Information provided by Mike Hebb:
“It fits very nicely and puts out 14 Amp hours which is unusually hi for a small 6 V. Size is 2 3/4  x 4 3/16 x 5 1/2. Called the dealers and the price was $29.00, two years ago.

 Your reporter is utilizing a Yuasa YTX7A-BS 12 volt battery that is just a tad tall for the Exide case and is rated at 6 amp hours. The gel cell batteries have also gained popularity.
 Knowledgeable Trevor Southwell suggests a Hawker Genesis or Odyssey unit.
 A hollow black battery case and shell top, part # 99-920, cost $54.56 is available from as well as from many Vincent suppliers.
 Your original magneto, restored with a modern day condenser will provide you with years of service. Nevetheless, I recall having veteran Vincent owner Dick Perry comment to me, “If you really want it to start very easily, and always idle, you’ll go to a battery ignition.”  Your reporter used a magneto for about 15 years and it was adequate for the job, once I learned precisely how to start the machine.
 Today we have more choices than ever before.
 First, the Series “D” distributor can provide excellent service especially if you have the unit rebuilt. Roy Price performs the function and provides a new distributor for 165 British Pounds. He also rebuilds the ATD for 105 Pounds and supplies new stronger units for 149 Pounds. Contact information is: Roy Price, 14 Heron Court, St. Neots, Cambs PE19 1TH Phone: 01480 473 225. He is a regular MPH advertiser.
 John McDougal has a Harley-Davidson based battery operated conversion available as well. Address printed previously.
 The creative Francois Grosset has what is reported by no less an authority than Patrick Godet to be a fabulous electronic ignition system coupled with proper integrated mechanical advance available for 500 Euros. The Grosset ignition is fitted as standard equipment on Patrick Godet’s Eglis, and Patrick told us he considers it  to be the finest available on the market. Patrick Godet has had experience with virtually every ignition system on the market.
 Francois and his son have also developed a small CNC machine and they are churning out specialized items from motorcycle parts to artwork. We had a glimpse of some Perspex they engraved with the Vincent logo, another of a pair of valves and a humorous piece sure to be loved by those who are not fans of Japanese bikes. Francois is one of the industry’s more creative and artistic men whose presence is appreciated.
 Contact information is: Francois Grosset, Le Pont Ricoul, 35720 St. Pierre de Plesguen, France. E mail:
 Tony Harris is the man who has revived the old B-TH name with his self generating electronic magneto also with electronic advance/retard. The B-TH unit has also received rave reviews and your reporter is a very satisfied customer. My own bike starts easier and I now trust the idle more than ever. Tony’s twin unit sells for 510 British Pounds while the Comet unit is 460. Contact information is:  website: and e mail is The devices are regularly seen in MPH ads.
 Your reporter does not have enough technical knowledge of other units on the market such as the Pazon and Boyer Bransden to give you an educated report, but both have been utilized successfully on our bikes. The Pazon unit has recently received great reviews on the club’s forum and they are concentrating on the Vincent unit so it is surely one to be considered. Their web site tells us the system was developed with assistance from veterans in the industry, Kirby Rowbotham and Bob Dunn.
 Contact info: and VinParts is a dealer for the Pazon systems.
 John Healy, the man who quietly supplies Vincent parts in the US through his Coventry Spares company spent a good deal of time one day explaining to the writer just how to install my ATD back in the days when we didn’t have the choices now available. It is wonderful to see several units on the market.
 Last and certainly not least is the advent of a combination dynamo/magneto unit made in Germany and publicized on the aforementioned German spares website. We have been unable to obtain further information on this unit.


 The aforementioned Francois Grosset solved the electric start problem for Vincent twins with his kit that leaves the stock kick starter in place, and usable. Francois’ craftsmanship and dedication to the Vincent are well known in the Vincent fraternity and his “electric leg” has turned many a Garage Queen into a daily rider. Pricing starts at 1500 Euros, contact information already provided. He regularly advertises in the MPH.
 Master Vincent engineer Bob Dunn has also installed electric starters on Vincents but to our knowledge does not provide a kit. Bob is well known in Vincent circles as being an accomplished journeyman in all manner of things Vincent. Contact information: To date we have not seen his starter advertised in the MPH which most likely tells us Mr. Dunn is an extremely busy man who may upon occasion be convinced to install an electric starter on your bike. He is probably swamped with rebuilding work and may not market a kit.


 Your reporter includes these devices because I find them invaluable even on chilly summer evenings. I built my own utilizing some phenolic that would just slip over the handlebar. I wrapped the phenolic with 24AWG Nickel Chromium wire so it didn’t touch the wire next to it. Then I shellacked the assembly daily for about a week to provide a slippery surface for the rubber grip to slide over. Each grip is wrapped with one wire and both ends are fed to a dead short. I fed them thru the interior of the handlebar to a thermostat (later deleted). They work very well at speed but sliding the rubber grip over the assembly provided an exercise in patience and creativity.
 I have just discovered the Aerostitch Warm Wrap Grips part # 103 for $45.00. They utilize the popular hook and loop attachment system so are easily removed. They draw 1.6 amps The same firm makes a heated grip kit part # 1400 for $27.00 as well as heated grips part # 1891 for $107.00 Contact information is Phone 800 222-1994 located in Duluth, Minnesota. These are the folks who make the high quality riding gear and their products are first class. They also sell heated seat pads as well as a line of heated clothing.

 If your Vincent has not fallen over because the stock prop stand is too short, then you have not experienced the accompanying frown that occurs when you see you bike laying on its side. Personally I had the lugs on the stand assembly FT118AS removed and re-positioned to give a greater angle. Then I lengthened the stand itself and finally installed a cloven hoof to the bottom. My own bike has long rear springs and sits high.
 You can eliminate the procedure just described by buying a longer set of propstand legs from Michael Breeding who also makes the B & C feet. His propstand legs are 3 ½” longer and are made from 4140 Chrome Moly. They are priced at $125 each and Mike reports they work perfectly even with a 21” front and 19” rear wheel. Contact information: e mail,
 Neal Videan supplies either a complete kit with or without a 1970-1982 Triumph propstand that fits through the lower sidecar mount. The Triumph stand is so sturdy you can use it while starting the bike as well. The kit sells for 295 Australian dollars complete or 165 and you supply the leg. Neal also replicates the rear stand and the attendant B or C end castings ready to be brazed in. Price is 275. Neal makes clutches and vulcanized gaskets we’ll discuss later.
 Dave Hills’ tread down center stands have also been one of the most welcome additions seen in recent years. His center stands are fitted in about an hour and can be used on any suspension/tire combination. The primer finish stands sell for 125 British pounds, are regularly advertised in the MPH. Contact information is:
  Another suggestion comes from Jim Wilson who says, “I use a Honda F4 side stand bolted onto left side, Ft106/8 plate. It must be shortened and slightly modified with a grinder.”

 G. Bailey has been supplying original style seat covers for the B C & D series for many years, each priced at 35 British Pounds as are his tank covers. He too is a regular MPH advertiser. Contact information is: G.Bailey, 127 Wrose Road, Shipley, West Yorkshire BD18 1NL Phone 01274 584 095
 THE VOC Spares Co. makes a Long Dualseat, extended by four inches part # PR1BA that is appreciated by all who have used it.
 There is no possibility the writer can tell you how to make your Vincent quit leaking oil if you want to ride it. I have heard tales of master craftsmen riding their machines 300 miles in a day and parking it over a white towel and don’t doubt the stories. My own bike has gone for a couple of years at a clip without dripping, but she’s leaked more than she has held her liquids.
 There are a few seals on the market that can be utilized in place of the standard washers, such as the A27 banjo washer. The two brands Dowty and Stat-o-Seal come to mind as well as the seals provided by Earl’s Supply Co. Earl’s has outlets in both the US and UK. They are basically a piece of rubber molded into a thin aluminum washer and work very well.
 However, Neal Videan seems to have come up with a set of re-usable washers that have proven excellent in retaining the oil that Phil Irving said was, “devilish stuff to control.” Neal’s Vulcanized Nitrile Rubber inspection cap washers even allow one to position the Vincent name as he chooses. He makes washers for all of the bike’s applications including return oil pipes, banjo bolts and pushrod seals. Since he uses distributors in the UK & USA we’ll list contact information at the end of this article. Neal advertises upon occasion in the MPH.
 Another master machinist, Dan Smith informs me, “ A possible oil leak everyone misses in the kickstart cover is the drilled hole H. It has only a 1/32” land between the hole and the bevel gear chamber. The same where the casting is relieved around the cam spindle boss. I’ve seen cases where the hole breaks into the bevel gear chamber or jus comes to a sharp edge. I machine a “O” ring groove in the case under the G50 plate.”
 The ET188 little copper washers on your oil return lines are prone to leak and member Tom Gross notes, “I ream them out so a ¼” o-ring just fits. They let me tighten the bolts just enough to keep things leak-proof and not enough to split the little fibre washers under the banjo, which I suspect, is where most leaks come from.” Your reporter agrees, I have inadvertently ruined several of the small fibre washers by overtightening. The copper washers are punched from a sheet and therefore not flat when received. Some judicious work with a file, or better yet flat sharpening stones will flatten them.
 The twin exhaust lifter anchorage tube ET168 will never get rusty as it provides a tunnel for copious amounts of petroleum to exit the timing chest and cover the pillion passenger’s leg as well as your rear wheel. There is probably no other place on a twin that leaks as much. Nevertheless, every major Vincent supplier contacted now supplies a kit to eliminate the leak. Contact information on each appear at the end of this article. You may have to dismantle your timing chest to install the kit, but the work is worth it. While you’re in there, the Series “D” exhaust lifter adjusters are recommended as replacements as they allow individual adjusting.
 Conway Motors specifies o ring seal kits for the nagging leaks on our G4 and G40 shafts as well as crankshaft seal kits.
 Sealing the dynamo mounting hole adequately will most likely bring very desirable results. The best we can recommend is to make sure you fit all the pieces including the ET164 hat shaped washer and use silicone carefully.
 Again member Jim Wilson noted it is possible to make a moulded seal for the dynamo opening by using a two part epoxy such as POR 15 or one supplied by the Eastwood Co. Your reporter hasn’t tried this dodge, but it seems like one of the best suggestions yet.
 Pushrod tubes, especially on the die-cast engines are a continuing problem. The writer experienced leakage and finally determined the opening in the head and the engine case were not parallel. Robert Watson suggested the installation of aluminum inserts into the engine case, properly o-ringed would solve the problem and it did. The inserts are grooved to accept Viton o-rings to manufacturer specs can be Loctited in.
The use of silicone is prevalent today and the following from Simon Dinsdale is useful:
 “Silicone sealant can be very dangerous to use due to excess squeeze. I'm sure you have all heard this before.The method I use on timing covers, etc. is to remove burrs (with a surface plate if you have access) and remove all old gasket and oil by you own preferred method. Then on the crankcase surface smear a light coating of engine oil. On the other mating surface coat with your favourite silicone sealant and assemble and leave for a minimum of 6 hours. Do not worry about excess squeezing out. After the silicone has cured, dismantle the joint. A gentle tap with a rubber mallet may be required, but the oil on the crankcase should mean the silicone will have only adhered to the removable cover.
Take the cover away from the engine and trim off the dangerous excess silicone which has been squeezed out.
You how have the perfect moulded silicone gasket adhered to the removable cover which when bolted up will not stick the parts together but in my experence created a leak tight joint. The cover can also be easily removed on the roadside if required and if the mating faces have not been damaged, will seal back up without using any more sealant and the worry of excess squeezing out.
This method has sucessfully worked for me for years, but comes with the usual use at your own risk disclaimers.”
 One thing to remember when trying to locate a leak is that it is reported that air is swirling forward under your bike at speed so as to mis-direct your inspection for sure.
 Among Vincent suppliers you will find most stock Banjo Bolts with a drain plug and crankcase or Gearbox with a magnet.
 Even if your bike doesn’t leak oil, chances are it fills the sump up with oil every time you shut it off and let it sit for a couple of days. Conway Motors has come up with a dependable and easily installed valve that will solve the problem. Installed in the oil feed line, it keeps the oil from entering the sump. No problems have ever been reported in utilizing this valve.
 Draining the oil with the tubular valve in place presents a minor hiccup that can be easily solved by having an extra A44AS fitting connected to another line. Thus, one unscrews the A44As on the bike, screw in the new one that is attached to a hose you use for draining. A kit is available to accomplish the task.
 The list of the above mentioned items that are not stock is too long to include all of what is on the market. Valve seal kits for use with unleaded fuel, seal kits for crankcase mainshaft, special exhaust valves, modified valve stem seals, high tensile two-piece cylinder head studs, high flow oil filters, steel idler gears and five speed gearboxes are on the market. Some may be exclusive to a particular supplier but it has been my experience that most Vincent suppliers have precious few items that are exclusive to one source only (such as the new 8” brakes supplied by the VOC).
 Hartmut Weidlich has an adaptor available to install BMW oil filters and ace mechanic and Bonneville racer Steve Hamel (gearheads has oil filters made that can be recommended by your reporter.

 You can remove the UFM and fill it full of nuts and bolts along with some cleaning solvent and pitch the part into a cement mixer where the rotating action will most likely knock loose the accumulated grunge. Once again, Conway Motors has come up with a reasonable solution with their Manhole Cover kit that allows you to cut a sizeable hole in the top, rear of the UFM to gain access to cleaning. You then weld an insert into the hole that is ultimately filled with a cap.
 Dan Smith, the man who is capable of creating an entire engine from raw materials says: “You are modifying a part of the engine that is capable of 200,000 miles with no wear. The tunnels lose their size by neglect and poor maintenance. The best you can do is chrome the spindles, they will never wear out. If the rocker moves on the spindle, you lose the area of wear by over half and for the rocker to stay central at the valve.  The pushrod and follower action will cause the rocker to wear quicker. If your tunnels are worn they should be bored oversize to clean ,and new bushings with a .0001" to .0002"
clearance fitted.”
 A modified rocker feed bolt and nut are available from most Vincent suppliers that utilizes a hat shaped bolt to snug up the assembly. It is also detailed in Know Thy Beast, pg. 159.
 Upon occasion the ET27 rocker adjuster bolt will foul the inspection cap. Usually, grinding the offending particular cap will cure the problem but VinParts makes a socket headed bolt that provides extra clearance (ET27SP).
 This reporter has built four or five breathers for my own twin, ranging from catch cans to Ducati breather systems.
 One of the neatest breather systems I have come across is enacted by ace restorer Ernesto Morales who is also an aircraft mechanic. Member Bev Bowen inspected the system and reports:
 “He removes the chain oiler fitting, T29 and the screw in the tank is left open. The stock breather banjo pipe is plugged, so it will remain stock in appearance (to not offend the judges). After first screwing down hard the intake valve inspection cap for the #1 rear cylinder, a punch marks the spot on the shoulder of the cap that is up (12 o’clock). He then drills and taps and screws in what looks like a hose fitting nozzle. Next, a spare A71S breather pipe is bent in a convoluted way so that it can be fitted with an oil banjo to the hole where the T29 is normally placed. Lastly, he connects the end of the pipe to the little nozzle with a short length of hose. He has no leaks on his machines.”
 Honorary member Sid Biberman, who has been fettling Vincents since the early 1950’s recommends the installation of a “D” style breather cap to be installed on the front cylinder, on the inlet rocker adjuster cap. He simply routes a hose to a one way PVC style valve, of which there are many on the market (the Krank Vent and Bunn systems come to mind) and into the atmosphere. There is a minor difference between the C & D cylinder heads. The slot above the rocker is milled wider on the D to allow easier passage of air to the valve springs. Sid swears by this simple modification and has used it extensively. He blocks off the stock breather using a sump plug.
 Conway Motors has a Ducati breather system they have adapted to our bikes that fits unobtrusively on to the front exhaust spring cap.
 Former MPH editor Robert Watson recommends using the stock breather with minor modification. It was Phil Irving I believe who recommended widening the actual slot in the timed breather. While I don’t have the dimensions at hand, your reporter performed the procedure on my own bike using a milling machine. You are simply allowing more air to escape, and of course oil. I made a new fitting which allowed me to use a 3/8’ hose rather than the stock ¼” and ran the exit hose all the way to the back of the bike, under the RFM out the left side. My machine still passes oil even after a rebuild.
 Watson however claims virtually no oil loss but he invests heavily in piston rings that seem to seal perfectly. Robert utilizes:
 Honda Car Chrome Rings: 85 mm  13011-PT2-003
       85.25 mm  13021-PTO-BO4
        85.5 mm 13021-PTO-BO4
 He notes the rings fit right on the pistons supplied by the VOC and others. He says, “The bore finish is very fine, not the coarse cross hatch we used to use, but done if I recall with #400 stones.” Robert reminds me that his mentor Dan Smith insists no ring will do its job properly if the bore is not absolutely round, a feat not as easily accomplished as one may initially believe.
 Your reporter installed a Ducati breather with less than perfect results, but former MPH editor Derek Peters says the unit is working perfectly on his Comet.
 The aforementioned Bunn and Krank Vent systems appear to utilize one way valves and can surely assist in attempting to contain a vacuum in the crankcase. ContactInfo: for the Bunn & for the Krank Vent. Very complete web sites.

 The one system that has proven its worth is known as the Elephant Trunk developed by Ron Kemp of VinParts. It consists of a casting which replaces the mag drive inspection cover and incorporates a wire mesh filter and an elbow which accepts an exit hose. The system is a demister, that separates the oil and air. It works extremely well and its only drawback may be the look of the ¾” hose that now protrudes from the timing chest. Contact info at end of this article.
 While I don’t have the precise quotes on hand, I do recall Phil Irving stating in his writings that the stock breather system was at best marginal and he did recommend widening the slot as noted.
 Time and again we have read reports telling us to block off the stock breather if we do in fact install another outlet as one will cancel out the effectiveness of the other if we don’t. Personally, your reporter agrees with the Dan Smith/Robert Watson method of obtaining perfectly round bores and using the stock breather system, with the widened slot.
 When you consider your standard chain oiler most likely dispenses more lubrication than necessary and is very often turned off, our first suggestion for keeping standard chains lubricated is to consider the fine product created by a motorcyclist who used to commute between Glasgow and Manchester. One Fraser Scott introduced his automatic oiler to the motorcycle world in 1986 and it has proven to be a welcome addition to most any bike. Basically a bit of oil is sprayed on the chain via a vacuum system each time you close the throttle. There is a Universal Kit available that is easily fitted to our Vincents. Contact information at:
  The advent of the o-ring ( including X and W ring) chain has changed the landscape for motorcycle chains. Lasting several times longer than standard chains, the o-ring variety has proven to be superior in virtually every way. They are, however wider than our stock chains and require narrower sprockets. Most Vincent suppliers stock narrower sprockets that make installation a bolt on process. Aluminum rear sprockets may be also be obtained from www.sprocketspecialists in the U.S. Your reporter highly recommends the installation of one of these new chains to eliminate yet another minor, nagging problem in updating our machines. I installed one on my own machine and have covered over 35,000 miles with no adjustment.
 Bear in mind what rider Mike Hebb reminded us about setting the rear chain tension: “The rear chain is at its tightest when there is a straight line between the drive sprocket center, the RFM pivot and the driven (rear) sprocket center. Raising or lowering the RFM above or below this line will only loosen the chain.”

We have in our club many very accomplished engineers with hundreds of years total experience in all manner of industries. One of them, Roy Cross has been a Vincent enthusiast for over half a century and commented:
 “I have fitted three multi-plate clutches to my bikes, and would not have installed any of them if I had realized how well the stock clutch could operate when it is adjusted properly.”
 Roy obtained a drawing that shows us dimensions for plunger travel, wear limits, etc. The drawing has been submitted and hopefully it will appear in the MPH soon. Actually, the dimensions printed in the drawing are repeated in the story below.
  Member Ken Targett put together a short article I find very useful and reprint it here. Ken’s problem was not clutch slip, but it was extremely fierce, “like an on-off switch,” he reports.
 “Adjust the clutch cable when the handlebar lever is fully pulled so that the top end of the G91 hits the abutment G94. Then adjust the clutch actuating pushrod with C42/1 and/or ET27/AS so that there’s ¼” play in the cable.
 “Check chaincase seal PD26, clutch sprocket seal PD25, Carrier seal C18 and make sure there is plenty of gasket cement on the splines of shaft G3. The clutch needs to be perfectly free of oil.
 “Smooth lift of plate: Check the spring forces under load. Using a set of bathroom scales and a drill press, measure the force needed to press each spring into its cup. If they aren’t matched, arrange them in order around the clutch. For example, strongest, weakest, strongest but one, weakest but one, strongest but two, weakest but two.
 “Shoe pivots: If the shoe pivots C5/1 are worn they can be replaced, and if the holes in the shoes are worn they can be bushed.
 “Shoe centralization: The plungers C11/1, when both are at their outer limits, should just hold the shoes symmetrical without any play. If not, you’ll need to tinker until they do.
 “Plunger travel: The screws C12 should be adjusted to allow travels of 0.235 plus or minus 25 thou for the plunger in shoe C7/1 and 0.295 plus or minus 25 thou for the plunger in shoe C7
“Shoe clearance: You need at least 25 thou clearance between the shoe lining and the drum. If less, remove lining material.”
 For additional info on your clutch we recommend
  Master machinist Dan Smith dodged his way out of using the pesky 406 screws that mate with the C14 pins. The 406 screws are ever-so-easily knackered when tightening their shallow slots. Dan machined a new set of C 14 pins and utilized tapped them for 10-32 flat sockethead screws. Some Vincent suppliers have also made sockethead screws available for the pins in the past.
The clutch rod G96 that was originally one piece is very often modified to be a three, or even five piece (as mechanic Glen Bewley has done) unit.
 Glen Bewley is another who we found literally digested every article in Jeff & Lyn Bowen’s books to aid in his quest to become a proficient Vincent rebuilder and from all reports he has succeeded.
Roy Cross made me a fabulous looking little piece that nearly clones the G93 sleeve that fits on to the G91 arm. Many of us have had the G96 rod assembly bore its way into the G91 arm. Roy’s modification is a longer G93 turned around, and turned down so it incorporates 1 5/8” of G96 rod. Thus, there is no rod bearing on the G91 any longer.
The three piece G 96 rods initially utilized a ball bearing in the middle which “Know Thy Beast” says had a habit of boring their way into indents into the adjacent rods. Thus, some suggest a roller in-between the two rods.
Because the reporter has had the boring-into-the G91-arm problem I have re-Stellited the edge of the arm and replaced the ball in-between with the Dan Smith recommended Tungsten Carbide 6mm ball available from McMaster Carr #9686K87 (pack of 5 for $14.89) before I obtained the Roy Cross mod. Dan uses the 6mm as it is .014” less than the quarter inch diameter normally used, and won’t bind in the hole. I heat treated the ends of my rods and have had no problems since. McMaster-Carr can supply the oil hardening drill rod necessary (#8893K36). Heat it cherry red, quench , re-heat and “draw” the tip back to a straw color. Do it in semi darkness and you can see the color. It will make you feel like a blacksmith. The original rods were 6 1/32”.
At the other end of the plot I know that both Sid Biberman and Neville Higgins have modified small engine valves to effect flat and full lift. This mod seems to be a most reasonable one, even if you have to fiddle with the length to get it right. Getting the clutch to lift evenly eliminates drag. Sid used a 1964 VW inlet valve pushing against a BMW ball race, thrust bearing, at the clutch end. He reversed the original peg (C42/1) to hold the ball race and the flat end of the VW valve pushed against it giving dead level throwoff. Neville used a valve from a Mini.
If you have experienced a bole bored into you G 91, you can reface the arm by welding on a bit of Stellite, but there are many grades. Dan Smith tells me your pushrod should be Rc 60, the lever Rc 56. The 4-5 point spread is used in industry for wear surfaces that touch each other. Welding with #1 Stellite should work.
The one piece Lightning disc has been recommended for decades as it is always flat, lasts longer and is known to give a smoother take off.


All of whom I am going to term as main suppliers to the Vincent, VOC Spares, VinParts, Conway Motors ( UK based) and Coventry (USA) supply complete multi-plate clutches that bolt right in with no modifications. Colin Jenner at Conway is to my knowledge the only one who supplies kits for Series A, Comets and Meteors.
In addition, Conway can modify your existing kickstarter cover to accept his clutch adjustor modification or supply a new cover with the mod already in place. Colin explains the mod thusly:
 “The Kick-Start mod is achieved by letting in a block of alloy below the G91 pivot point. This is then machined to accept ET27/1.  G91 is then lengthened so that it pivots lower against ET27/1 effecting more lift at the Push Rod.”
Trying to keep up with the variations of multi-plate clutches on the market for our twins presents a challenge. For example, the knowledgeable Herve Hamon of France tells me the 500T two stroke Suzuki clutch can be used with no mods and is also extremely inexpensive.
 I understand the Vee Two clutch is no longer being made by the New Zealand company that introduced it. It utilizes Ducati innards and the only complaint I have heard coming from  Justin Mackay Smith is that it is sensitive to dust caused by wear. He had no solution to the problem.
While the V-2 name may not be utilized, it is my understanding the  unit is still being made by David Holder (who has manufactured the unit for several years) and supplied by VOC Spares, VinParts and Coventry Spares, Ltd. in the US. Without entering the politics of the situation I believe it is termed a “multi-plate” clutch and has gained an admirable reputation in use. You can be sure if Patrick Godet is using it, it is reliable.
If one digs back far enough I’m sure there are some politics involved in the manufacture of not only this clutch, but many other parts as well. More than likely a supplier such as Ron Kemp or John Healy from Coventry Spares or our own VOC Spares stepped up and said, “I’ll take a number of them if you will make them.”
Neal Videan makes the V3 clutch that has been installed in over 300 machines thus far. He utilizes many Kawasaki innards and the clutch is stout enough to have survived racer Steve Hamels’ Bonneville runs. As noted, Neal’s work is admirable. Neal also makes a tensioner blade (PD9R) from British Crinoline Steel that is vulcanized with hard rubber to reduce primary noise. Cost is 55 Australian dollars. Contact info at end of this article.
Hartmut Weidlich gave me a complete breakdown of the clutch he manufactures, and does not advertise. His e mail follows:
  I am tired of advertising my clutch - as far as I know it is the only clutch on the market that could be run wet or dry, is completely made from solid billet, and fits the cases without any modification. I have sold clutches all over the world, the first prototype works in Peter Volkers HRD now for more that 100,000 miles without the need to change anything - even the friction plates are those that I gave him. We installed the clutch on a camping place at a German VOC rally within a half hour.
But anyway - if you need info here goes:
outer basket machined from solid billet aluminum and hard anodized
inner drum aluminum billet, splined with 36 teeth, hard anodized
steel plates laser cut with hardened edges on the 36 teeth for extra long life (probably overdone as nobody ever has ordered new steel plates). Billet pressure plate with incorporated bearing for clutch pushrod, One piece pushrod made from silver steel, l6 springs 6 cups (billet),6 spring tensioners (Billet) 6 locknuts (stainless)
friction plates from a Jap bike - easily bought everywhere on the world for around 50 $ - the whole set.
I used to buy the original clutch shoe carrier and modify it for my clutch - this proved very troublesome as all the clutch shoe carriers vary and might not fit the gearbox mainshaft properly.
If someone wants a clutch I ask him to send me his clutch shoe carrier - that fit the bike before - so I can be sure it will fit afterwards as well.
As I make nearly all parts in-house I need at least 4 weeks to complete a clutch and I need the clutch shoe carrier.
Price is 600 Euros.
Picture of the clutch is on my homepage
 Hartmut is also one of the ultra-creative machinists dedicating his talents to the Vincent and he has gone so far as to create his own engine based on the Vincent design. After reading his posts on the jtan e mail service one comes to realize he has amassed a great deal of knowledge concerning not only our machines, but motorcycles in general. He along with Sonny Angel are the pilots of Max Lambky’s twin-Vincent engine streamliner.

  Bob Newby does a multi-plate clutch with belt drive and an e mail received from Phil Blakeney says:

Bob is happy for you to publicise his multiplate clutch and belt drive systems; he wants to sell them!.  I spoke with the gentleman today.  You can contact him by telephone on +44 1858 880009 or by e-mail at .
He does two ratios as a rule; 1.66:1 and 1.88:1.  The 1.66:1 ratio is better for a kickstart machine.  He has made these systems for both standard and chopped twins, and for many BSA Gold Stars, Manx etc.  The belts (40mm wide, 8mm pitch RPP profile, single-, or double-sided if for an Alton alternator drive) are good for 92 HP upwards, as proved by some triple-cylinder racers over the years.
A standard Vincent Twin setup 1.66:1 or 1.88:1 is GBP 450 (plus VAT for UK buyers).  The double-belt system he mounted on a UK Vincent twin owner's road machine recently, and shown on his website (the Alton generator drive pulley on top), was around GBP 640.
From customer feedback, Bob holds that here are no major problems, apparently, after removing the Vincent ESA; he claims that system was never really that effective anyway, and there is a little bit of  "spring" in the toothed belt.
(Is it not so that the standard ESA really only comes into its own when hauling a sidecar?).

 Obtaining enough lift for the multi-plate clutches has been an often discussed topic. As noted the Conway modification seems to have solved this problem. We found an item on the jtan e mail service from Paul Zell that seems worthy of inclusion here:
 “Simply by replacing the adjuster screw in the cover with a dowel pressed into the bore having a flat end moves the fulcrum point of the lever down approximately 3/16”, enough to give the multi-plates a clear lift . The dowel must be trimmed to give the G91 the correct geometry of course and it does increase the effort at the handle bar slightly.”
 Naturally you lose the adjuster capability that is in the kickstarter cover as well.
 Overall the writer agrees with Roy Cross. Your stock clutch can be made to work perfectly and we should not lose sight of the fact successful racers Sid Biberman and Neville Higgins, among many others, utilized the stock clutch for Sprint (drag) racing for many years whereupon unreasonable loads were enacted time and again.
As noted previously, the procedure for enacting this procedure is outlined in Richardson. However, countless members have encountered problems with the G61 tabbed Pawl Carrier Centralizer. The tabbed units are designed so we don’t inadvertently pop into the next gear, the tabs are meant to stop the plot where it is supposed to be. Your reporter is one who found that elimination of the tabs, or bending them so far to the right and left, finally solved the positive shifting problem. Member Paul Zell wrote: “I drilled and tapped my G49 for two 3/16" grub screws, one on each side pointing towards the center dowel, providing independently adjustable stops.  Never had much luck with the tabbed G61 either.
Glen Bewley had the same experience as your reporter and removed the tabs. Thus far, I have never “overshifted” the bike and find adjustment is now positive and I can feel the pawl click into place.

I can’t convince myself this subtitle meets my “Reasonable Mod” requirement for your Vincent but there are those out there who believe the five speed gearbox set manufactured by Quaife is a necessity. I have read both pro and con reports on the ease of fitting. Mechanic Bill Jean had to remake the forks supplied. Rider Peter Bromberg says he has done about 4,000 miles with one of the units and is well satisfied. Rider and racer Tim Kingham had very high praise for the unit and specified how much he likes the higher bottom gear not only for everyday riding but racing as well. Contact info:   Supplied by John Surtees.Sports Power Ltd., Monza House,Fircroft Way,Edenbridge Kent TN8 6EJ  E Mail:  Contact is Ian Skinner. I believe the current price is right at 900 GBP.
 We understand fabricator Colin Taylor can erase the old numbers on your kickstart cover to include the 5th speed. Racer Steve Hamel had his cover
Stamped P N D L R . Contact Info:colineng/ Phone 39 085848372

 Complete wiring harnesses are available from our Vincent suppliers of course. If you want to clone the wiring in your harness for a modification such as turn signals a company named TMS in Nottingham run by one Tony Cooper should be contacted at Phone 0115 9593447. This firm specializes in vintage car and bike wiring and I understand they supply us with our harnesses.
 Member David Dunfey had Rhode Island Wiring do a harness over a decade ago for his open D and he says it was absolutely concours quality. This firm is probably the most famous and respected in the US and literally demand they locate an original before they duplicate. Every harness they make is listed in their catalog. They will have a Series C harness available soon. Thus, they can supply original wire, ends, etc.  Contact:
 I ran my own wiring inside of heat shrink tubing, that I did not shrink. I glued the tubing (with GOOP) to the bottom of the RFM where it has happily resided for over a decade. The installation is ultra-clean and easy to keep that way.
 While not recommended for concours judging, I ran all of my handlebar wiring inside of the bars as I love the visual appearance of naked bars without the ty-wraps and harness.
The H47 Felt seals can be difficult to fit because of their thickness. Most Vincent suppliers now stock what is known as a Nylos seal (metal and rubber) that is much easier to use. Your reporter prefers the bronze grease retainers often available. They cost more but are easily removable.
 When unscrewing your exhaust nuts, pay close attention, and mark a particular fin, say at 12:00 as it just exits the cylinder head. Now you know what part of the fin mates with the head’s threads when you re-install. The following tip is useful too: “ Try easing the internal bore of your pipe nut with an appropriate sized flapper wheel . This was a tip given to me by Bob Culver, and it worked for my engine.” From Stumpy Lord
 Once your kickstarter shaft is in place you may note it fouls the exhaust. VinParts has come up with a shaft that is ¼” longer than stock and has proven to be a very worthwhile addition. Part number is G83L.
 Your reporter read of the modification whereby the shaft is drilled and tapped at its outer end . A ¼” BSF bolt is installed with a washer to hold the kickstarter itself on in case you have experienced somewhat loose splines due to over tightening the clinch bolt. Mine has been in place for the past 18 years, and initially I thought I needed a new kickstart shaft. The shaft was easily drilled.
 I have experienced severe kickstart slip in the past, a condition that has led to a fractured knee ( I read of this during my first year or so in the club of an unfortunate who actually broke a bone while attempting to start his bike). The G46 & G47 gears are held in place by a puny little spring G48. When not fully engaged the gears can slip with the described disastrous results. Replace the spring, better yet, buy two and wind them together and re-install. See MO10 for a drawing, it is an easy fix.
 The Kickstarter spring G87/1 is going to lose its resilience sooner or later and will have to be replaced. VinParts specify they have a heavy duty version, others may have as well. Jacqueline Bickerstaff changed the spring in my bike on the sidewalk in front of her house without taking the cover off. With a pair of vise-grips (mole grips) she removed the old, wound a few twists of wire around the loop of the new one, (to make a pull rope), inserted the spring and snapped it on. Then she cut the now offending wire and removed it.
 Here we refer not to the fastening devices used on our Vincents, but to those that are not. In the USA the Whitworth fastener is easily pronounced but painstaking to locate. We recommend Ph: 315 946-9400. Owner Tom Caswell will sell a single tool or bolt. Also check Metric and Multistandard Components Corp. at
 To our friends in the UK we have to say: “You are on your own. There are so many places listed in Old Bike Mart that specialize in British fasteners and tools we don’t have space to list them all.” However we know that if you contact : they will ship not only to the UK but US as well. Thanks once again to Jim Wilson for the addresses.
 You do not require many specialized tools to fettle your machine, but a couple are worthwhile. Years ago the writer purchased a pair of thin (1/8th—3mm) wrenches to accomplish E80 nut tightening. Those are the nuts located between the brake backing plates and the forks. They are also used on the battery carrier and speedo drive. Neal Videan now makes these wrenches available again and has added a ring end to one that allows work on the FF23 head stem nut. Contact info at end of the article.
 Removing and reinstalling, particularly the front spring boxes presents a problem. You’ll find at least three separate procedures for removal in Forty Years On in Chapter One. Plus, if you can locate a MPH 522 the late Roger Haylett devised an extremely simple threaded rod/angle iron device that is illustrated in the magazine. You can make the tool in about half an hour. Trevor Southwell leaves the top bolt in place and utilizes a rope/windlass to remove the bottom, so as to make the projectile hit the floor and not the fuel tank if your operation goes pear-shaped on you.
 To install and remove longer rear springboxes on the rear couple of pieces of aluminum, slotted to clear the center bolt and just long enough to go past the diameter of the can itself can be used. Simply drill a couple of holes in the extended part of the aluminum and use a pair of threaded rods to clamp the cans (springboxes) and therefore reducing their length.
 Dan Smith gives me yet another worthwhile suggestion for working on our bikes as he notes the new ratcheting combination wrenches, some with pivot heads are extremely useful. We won’t see them in Whitworth sizes so Dan suggests we purchase: 7/16”, 13mm, 15mm and file them to our respective sizes 1/4BSF .448; 5/16BSF .525; 3/8BSF .601.
 Ironically, while the USA is six times larger than the UK, our largest publication that caters to the old bike market, Walneck’s, doesn’t come close to containing the amount of advertisers or editorial content found in OBM.
 Consequently, we highly recommend OBM for anyone interested in, particularly, old British machinery. Contact at: Walneck’s contact is
 While we know all of our cables are stocked by Vincent suppliers, some  have gone to extra trouble to locate adjustors in sensible places. Clutch cables with the adjustor 16” from the clutch end and throttle/air cables with adjustors 3” from the bar end are available.
 The twin pull twist grip available from (at least) the VOC Spares. Co. is a popular mod along with a nylon throttle cable junction box. Coventry Spares displays a nice looking brass cable splitter for $35.82.
 Personally, one of the best mods the writer has enacted on my machine is a device called the Throttle Rocker, for ten U.S. dollars. It is similar to a shark’s fin, slips over the twist-grip and relieves nearly all of the wrist pressure required to actuate the throttle. There was a patent argument over this device and it was taken off the market for a time, but available in Canada. There are other similar devices on the market that utilize Velcro to hold it in place, but I much prefer the naked version as it can easily be slipped to a most comfortable position depending upon how much you want the throttle open. Info at:
 `For those who have to construct their own cables in the UK we can recommend  JJ Cables Tel: 01926651470 andT.Johnson:
 We also recommend the making of a solder pot if you are going to make cables although not mandatory. One can easily be constructed with a short piece of galvanized plumbing tubing, capped and later heated with a propane torch. Making cables can be a dangerous undertaking for the novice, (if you happen to be making a brake cable for example) so knowing how to “mushroom” the cable itself and properly “tin” and clean the plot is essential.
 Once again, Jim Wilson wrote an article for the “Clatter” the Northern California Newsletter section years ago about using a silver solder with a low 430 degree melting temperature which is perfect for soldering iron usage.
He used a 7 x 7 stranded inner cable as well as the associated outer cable tht is much more flexible and lasts longer than the typical 1 x 19 for throttle, clutch and brake. 19 strand cheaper inner cable is found to break or fray more easily. The 7 x 7 can be put into service in a much tighter configuration and still work. These are available in the US at both Flanders and Barnett: Contact Info: & both USA based.
 Jim also uses Magura dust boots to cover the adjusters (along with short piece of shrink tubing) and advises the use of Messer’s MG-120 silver solder. It is cadmium free, low temperature, good capillary and wicking properties and great for bike cables. It is available in a small kit and has the flexibility needed to hold. Use 120 liquid flux or MG 120 paste flux.
 Jim doesn’t use a solder pot and finds one un-necessary.
 Of course a cable lubricator is essential to keep the easy movement. Contact Info: Products/Brazing.htm & Phone 262 255-5542 USA
 Your reporter followed Wilson’s advice and successfully made all the cables on my Shadow. A friend doing a multi-million dollar Alfa used the Messer product and found it satisfying.
 Wrapping up a new clutch/comp. cable tightly and inserting into your headlamp could prove to be a prescient act as well.
 You are on your own when it comes to painting your bike but I want to recommend the “silver sheen” paint referred to in Jacqueline Bickerstaff’s book referring to the coating used on our carburetors. The Eastwood Company makes a product called “Carb Renew” item # 10187Z that has been used on (at least) some of Ernesto Morales’ award winning bikes. Contact info: http:/eastwood.results /search?p=Q&ts=custom&w=carb+renew
 For some reason I have kept track of the number of times my own machine has been on its side during my ownership. It has fallen over seven times and crashed once. In each circumstance my Britax crash bar, a bar that fits through the headstock sidecar fitting, has saved the machine, and me, from damage. It is astounding the bike has received literally no damage whatsoever each time it has tipped over. Even during my crash when the machine skidded out from under me in a curve and slid over 140’, and then flipped to the opposite side, the damage was minimal. The VOC Spares Co. makes a stainless steel bar that clones the Britax (part # CB1SS) and it may come from the highly respected Vincent parts maker-rebuilder of Maughan and Sons whom we know manufactures this part.
 I milled slots in my own bar to accept a line of 12 LED lights that serve as turn signals. They not only work great, but most say, “You don’t have winkers up front,” as they don’t look at the bar as being a place of origin for lights. I more or less glued them in on piece of wood.
 The hangars F52/11 and F52/12 are to a six foot rider, short. I was able to obtain a set of longer hangars years ago, but no longer available. A competent welder can cut yours and add a piece in the middle and your riding position will be much more comfortable. With the short pegs I found it easy to get a “Charlie Horse” in my (especially) right hip.
 I can’t lay hands on the quote from Phil Vincent who commented something to the effect of ”It’s so wet in England that the dust is kept down.” Thus some original bikes were fitted with Vokes air filters that I understand did a pretty fair job of choking the engine. Fit a set of short K & N filters to your machine and your cylinders will be much happier and last a whole lot longer.
 TheVokes have been reproduced with modern day filters by craftsman Steve Hall .They sell for $695 per pair and you buy your own K & N Filters. I believe they are first-class reproductions. Contact Info: E Mail

 The stock handlebar assembly can feel a bit confining to a tall rider. I fitted a set of touring bars, still available, and found the riding position much improved. The stock dip switch looks lovely and seemingly takes about a second and a half to actuate. The writer highly recommends you install a modern day turn signal switch (with turn signals of course) just for safety. I used a switch off a Harley-Davidson Buell that is black. It happily befuddles the onlookers as well as they didn’t realize a 1954 bike had such a device.
 I am astounded to see the new style, squished rectangular mirrors installed on so many beautifully restored bikes. You can still buy a new Stadium mirror that will mount on your handlebar end, but they aren’t the cast aluminum ones of old. Nevertheless, if you go on line and look up any good hot rod supply shop you can buy a small round mirror that looks all the world like an original Stadium and it can be made to fit your new bracket. If you are going to ride it, you need mirrors.  Remember, the guy behind you is using his cell phone to text message his girl-friend.
 Mount one of those cute little chrome Amal horn buttons on your right hand twist grip and use it as a kill switch. It may not only come in handy one day, but with a little practice you can bump it and your footshift at the same time to enact lightning fast shifts without fear of tearing up the drivetrain. I know about such things when I get next to a Harley Sportster.
 Your original cork based fuel taps most likely leak and articles abound on how to fix them. Mine reside in my “Original Vincent” box as they have been replaced with modern petcocks.
 When you consider the vast amount of experience Patrick Godet has in the world of Vincent motorcycles, his opinions carry very significant weight. Patrick is of course the man who reproduces a new ready-to-run Egli and who also runs what is most likely the most complete and largest Vincent restoration facility in the world. This is not to say other restoration facilities turn out any less quality than Godet’s, nor do we respect other opinions any less than his. Moreover, in this reporter’s estimation his comments can be appreciated by all Vincent owners, new and old. Remember, English is a second language for Patrick and most of us can’t say, “Where’s the bathroom?” in French.
 Basically, Patrick is telling us he doesn’t have very many modifications that he would recommend doing to the Vincent. He’s pretty happy with it as manufactured:
 “Dear Carl
Many thanks for your kind e-mail.
Over those 35 years of Vincenteering I have learnt a lot and still do.
You might be surprised if I tell you we do not do many fancy things on the 1000 CC engine.
Our 1000 cc engines are 100% to Vincent design plus ET100 modified .Our goal is to supply reliable trouble free enjoyable machines has more to do with the very much attention paid to every details and first of all before even thinking of building an engine :
It took me several years to solve the grabbing and squealing problem of the multiplate clutch.
We only use ¼¨¨ sprockets to allow ‘o’ring chains
In fact in the light of my experience in travelling long journeys and racing we do everything we can to get the machine as refined as possible with maximum docility.
I have designed special breather caps and I still need to design a one way valve even  though our system works fine without it.The problem is we re-machine inside the cylinder head so it is not easy for average owner
Every Egli wheeled out of here has an electric start from François Grosset and I am sold on his ignition system as well which is on every machine from here when the customer agrees .
I am happy too to advertise .I do it to wave the Vincent flag more than for the business I still have a few more ideas for coming months and then I shall be quiet again.
We manufacture our own crankcases and covers, cylinder heads crankshafts MKII and MKIII camshafts pistons for our big bore and many  parts we have also experimented diamond like carbon coated cam followers in conjunction with our smoothing by tumbling no rugosity  camshafts we use a formula one and motorsport process for our camshafts.
Our 1330 engine has a fully nitrided and then grinded 100 stroke bob-weight crankshaft each side is one piece with 1¨1/8 mainshafts .Our 1330 engine has our specific big port squished cylinder heads which I designed some years ago for a 500 racer project which has been postponed.I keep the technology inside for my customers.
My own machine is just a standard ‘D’ with improved breathing and ET100 modified  nicely ported inlet and exhaust port Amal MKII carbs .Let say for the standard Vincent I do not like modification I love them as they are..
I forgot we also have our gearbox mainshafts on needle rollers and a seal and no more bronze bushes.
When I shall retire I shall then write more.
I am always pleased to help and give advices individually when somebody contacts me.
Best regards
Patrick Godet
 Patrick credits both Fritz Egli and manufacturer David Holder for much of his success. Holder, as many of you know owns the Vincent and Velocette trademark names and manufactures many of the exacting parts of our bikes such as gearbox and timing gears, primary drive and ESA, rocker cover caps, liners, muffs, hubs and spoke flanges, brake shoes, speedo ring gear, and the multi-plate clutch previously mentioned as well as the new Rear Frame Member used on the club’s reproduction Black Shadow. He sells directly to the trade so his name isn’t one we are all familiar with.
 It took your writer a good number of years to make my own Black Shadow a truly reliable daily ride and most of the problems I encountered were either of my own making, or a lack of knowledge of the machine. I recommend those new to the world of Vincent motorcycles use the club forum, the jtan e mail service and read through the many informative articles on to answer most any question. Remember, one Tony Rose logged 100,000 miles in a little over a year on his Vincent in the 1950’s and encountered but minor difficulties.
 The machines were manufactured to be ridden and to be ridden fast and for long distances. Ride them, wear out some parts and learn how to work on the machine with your own hands. Both you and the world of Vincent motorcycling will be the better for it.
 Again, at least a couple of dozen Vincent enthusiasts contributed to this article and they represent the helpful spirit the writer has found throughout his tenure with my own Vincent. Thanks to you all.

 Contact Sources:
VOC Spares Co. Ltd.
VinParts International:
COVENTRY SPARES, LTD.  1-800-451 5113 USA
V-3 PRODUCTS, NEAL VIDEAN: Australia; Steve Hamel:; USA; Vince Farrell UK The club’s website. Membership required to access some information. A phenomenal amount of technical information included on this site for every part of your Vincent. Highly recommended e mail service catering to Vincent owners. Send an e mail to with the word “Subscribe” in subject line. Send the word “Unsubscribe” to do so.
MAUGHAN & SONS: Patriarch Tony Maughan learned the art of machining while serving in the British Navy, and the world of Vincent motorcycling became much richer for his knowledge and dedication. His son and son in law now run the firm and are very well known for their superb rebuilding and manufacturing efforts. Contact info: Int’l 44 1529 461717 (UK)
TERRY PRINCE: My conscience won’t allow me to conclude this article without a mention of Terry Prince, a man who has dedicated much of his existence to furthering the performance of the Vincent. Terry has produced everything from complete cylinder heads, big bore kits to a rolling (Egli-style) chassis. His products have received praise world-wide. Currently however, we understand he is making very few parts and may ramp up his efforts in 2009. Contact information is: E mail: Website:   Phone +61 245 682208;Steve Hamel, whose address is listed above is Terry’s North American agent.
PATRICK GODET: Contact info: Phone 00 332 35 75 9656 e mail
TREVOR SOUTHWELL: E Mail: Affectionately known as Clever Trevor, he has encyclopaedic hands on master machinist knowledge of every inch of our machines. Does not advertise but is one of the main behind-the-scenes forces for many technical innovations.
SID BIBERMAN: E Mail: A VOC Honorary Member with half a century plus experience racing and tuning Vincents. A fountain of knowledge.
JIM WILSON: E Mail: Jim is a decades long enthusiast who has a proclivity for locating and saving tidbits of information and websites relating to our bikes. He’s always helpful for tech questions.
GLEN BEWLEY: E Mail: Glen is another who has amassed a great deal of knowledge of our machines and is an active rebuilder most willing to assist.

Restoring a Vincentt: Preliminary Thoughts  ( By Max Lambky)

Breaking down your restoration into categories is advisable, as each category requires individual and unique skills to get the job done properly.

The categories are:

#1. Chassis:  forks, oil tank and steering head, rear swing arm, gas tank, prop stands and their components.

#2.  Wheels:  spokes, hubs, bearings, brakes, brake drums, and tires.

#3.  Engine:  all engine components, clutch, transmission, primary chains, and engine covers.

#4.  Electrical components:  magnetos, distributors when applicable, headlights, taillights, generators, regulators, horn, horn button, switches, and wiring.

#5.  Spring packs with shrouds:  ends, and shocks.

#6.  Carburetors:  fuel shut off valves, fuel lines, choke and throttle cables, choke lever, throttle, and cable junction box.

#7.  Plating parts:  handlebars, brake and clutch levers, compression release lever, headlight rim, foot peg hangers, foot pegs, kick lever complete, spring shrouds, gas and oil caps, wheels, exhaust pipes, mufflers, and various nuts and bolts.

#8.  Polished parts:  all polished engine components, spacers, hubs, water deflectors, stainless Tommy bars, rear fender hinge, fenders, both stainless and aluminum, steering dampner knobs, and rear friction shock assemblies, including knobs.

#9.  Seat and it's components:  cover, foam, plywood base, steel support hardware, tool tray slide, and rear fender relief metal piece.

#10.  Rubber components:  handle grips, inner tubes, tires, gas tank insulator rubbers, cable boots, foot peg rubbers, kicker and shift rubbers, herringbone oil and fuel lines, and gas cap seal rubber.

#11.  Exhaust pipes:  exhaust nuts, exhaust clamp, and exhaust muffler.

#12.  Gas tank preparation for painting and mounting

These are the major component breakdowns of a Vincent restoration.  Some minor things will have to be taken into account, but these are usually unique to the individual bike, too numerous to mention, and wouldn't be applicable to all.

Now it's time to take the category list with a notebook, and go over each part, whether it be in a complete state or basket case, and determine it's existence, condition mechanically, soundness of structure, and lastly, it's cosmetic appearance.

Nothing in this world happens with any success without a certain amount of paperwork, pricing, and most certainly, in the case of antique motorcycle restorations--parts chasing.

A multitude of interface problems sometimes seem to come from nowhere to slow down, aggravate, and even stop the progress of restoration.  You can overcome most of these interface problems, i.e., the chrome shop gives you a 90 day time frame, and you know right then it's likely to be longer than 90 days.  When things like this occur, don't commit--find yourself another chrome plater.  There are other things besides chrome plating, which I only mention because most restorers have no control over the plating process.  Another item out of the restorer's control is the availability of missing hard parts, or parts required to make "as new" the restoration of a Vincent Motorcycle.  So in lieu of what I've just said, the first thing in the paperwork department is to compile a comprehensive list of all parts necessary to the rebuild and restoration of your Vincent.

Thanks to the VOC Spares, Coventry Spares, Russell Kemp, and others, parts are usually available, especially for the "C" twins and singles.  Items that I've found hard to come by are usually for "B" Vincents, and "D" enclosed.  When you run into a part that's difficult to find, don't give up.  More than likely someone in the club will have the part you need, but you may have to trade a healthy portion of your bank account for it.

It always pays to shop around for parts, and remember to take into consideration shipping.  Some suppliers do a much better job of packaging than others to insure safe arrival.  When you order parts from several venders you'll soon find out what I mean.     Max Lambky  12/29/09

Restoring A Vincent (part 1):   I thought I might give some insight as to what I've learned in restoring them.  Assuming that you have a complete ridable Vincent, but felt a bit belittled when you parked it next to Rick Vochel's Vincent at the last Vincent get together, and after that experience decided to do a complete restoration, here are some tips that may speed things up.

First thing you do is put the bike on the rear stand.  With a string and plum bob, determine the amount of over center of the stand.  It shouldn't measure over 1 1/2" from the plum bob point to the center of the bottom of the stand.  Anything more than that and the stand will bend when you try to start the bike.  You'll find that the stand won't bend if you use the 1 1/2" over center measurement.  More than likely, after years of use, the over center will probably measure 3 or 4".  Before you go any further with your restoration, weld up the stop portion of the rear stand to achieve the 1 1/2" desired measurement.

The first time restorer will more than likely go at it by disassembling the motorcycle so he can get right on to the restoration.  This isn't a good idea, as I learned after my first couple of restorations.  What I suggest, (and is the way I do it) is to first remove the tires from the rims.  I don't mess around with them, as this is a complete restoration and the Vincent will be "as new" when finished.  With a saw-saw, split the tires and remove them from the rim.  Be careful not to knick the rim with the saw.

With the bike on the rear stand and with the side stands in the front stand position, both wheels are readily accessible.  Then with the saw-saw, slice off the front edge of the Vincent rubbers from the four foot rests and discard.  Same goes with the John Bull kick rubber and shift rubber.  Next step is to straighten all of the foot rests and inspect for wobble.  A good fit and a nice "feel" when put in upright position, goes hand in hand with a concourse restoration.  All of this should be done before disassembly.

Usually a torch, a welder, grinding equipment, a one foot level, and sometimes a mill, are required to do a professional job on the foot peg restoration.  You'll seldom find that nothing has to be done to a foot peg.  Usually the hardest part is repairing the pivot hole if it's wallored out.  This will require a sleeve job.  Do the same thing with the shifter pin, straighten as required.  Ditto to the kicker arm.  When the kicker arm is  swung out for starting, it's a good idea to give the arm 2 to 3 degrees up on it's end over level, and 2 or 3 degrees forward from perpendicular.

Next check all brake arms, there are seven of them.  Ensure that they appear the same.  If they don't, bend them appropriately.  Ensure adequate clearance so the rear brake rods don't rub the rear frame member.  Hang two plum bobs
from the outboard edges of the rear fender hinge.  With a measuring tape, measure from the now exposed rim to the string, and ensure that the rear fender is centered.  Sometimes heating the rear grab handle brace and bending will be required.

Tighten up the steering head Tight-Tight.  Lay a six foot level along side the front rim in a vertical position, adjust the rear stand by placing small cardboard shims under one or the other edge to achieve plumb.  Then move the level to the rear wheel and check.  Normally you'll find that it'll come in plumb.  However, sometimes it won't.  If that be the case, the first place to look is the front forks.  It's possible that they're slightly tweaked, and this doesn't necessarily mean the fork legs themselves.  More often than not it's in the fork pivots.  If that checks out, more than likely it's in the rear frame member.  Seldom is it in the oil tank steering head area.  In any case, whatever has to be done, take care of the problem before you go further.

I always strive to adjust fork stops so as to achieve equal distance from fork to tank on both left and right sides.  This is easily done by welding and dressing the weld to thickness on fork stops.  Then check to see that the friction plate stop pin to the fork dampner is slightly loose in it's bore.  This is a must.

If all of this is accomplished and done well, when you go back to putting the bike together, you'll be pleased that you spent the time doing it right.    Max  Lambky  12/14/09

Restoring a Vincent ( part 2) : If the Vincent you're about to restore is incomplete, missing fenders or whatever, it's prudent to build a complete bike before the restoration, marrying what you have with the parts you'll have to acquire.  this preliminary marrying of parts eliminates headaches later on when the bits are all shiny and ready to go together in the final assembly.

Things to look out for are many.  Quality control, particularly on bolt patterns and distances, is a point of concern.  Chain guards, front foot and rear top tab, usually don't line up with the tab on the rear mud guard stay's tab. Almost always I've had to remove the rear mud stay tab and relocate the tab to fit the chain guard.  Centering an after market rear fender stay has to be done in every case for a perfect hinge operation, and location, as to fender radius.  Most after market fenders don't have the proper radius.  After market tail lights have varied a lot in quality over the years.  Some are good, but some aren't.  Then there's the fitting of the tail light to the rear number plate.  This requires drilling and modification in most every case, so that the stop reads horizontally.

On the rear fender stay, (that would be the one the electrical wires are threaded through) you need to make modifications.  To ease threading the electrical wire, drill the holes larger, (but not so large as to weaken) and with a small dremel tool, round off all sharp edges on the newly drilled holes.  What I use is a piece of safety wire with a small hook on the end to pull the electrical wire through the tubing.  If your rear fender stay is original, it's a good idea to ensure that broken off bits of electrical wire aren't lodged in the tube, in other words, make sure the tubes are clear of all electrical wire.  One other tidbit that might help.  Be aware that the early B's rear frame member is, (if I remember correctly) one inch shorter than the C's.  That would be the distance from the center of the swing arm pivot point to the concave portion of the rear axle slot.  B chain guards aren't the same as C chain guards.  This holds true with B and C Meteors as well.

A thorough inspection of both right and left rear casting on the rear frame member is the most important thing concerning the part.  In my opinion the casting should have been made much more robust.  I've worked on these and repaired them several times, mostly in the threaded areas for axle alignment.  Very weak.  Hopefully you don't have a problem in this area, as it's not easy to fix.   Max Lambky  12/15/09

Restoring a Vincent (part 3):  I forgot a couple of things in post number one.  Before you cut the tire off and the bike's sitting on it's rear stand, check for fork sag.  There was a recent thread on this subject which was covered by all quite extensively, so there's no need to rehash it's procedure.  Assuming the static ride height of the fork assembly is satisfactory, the next step is to take the bike off of it's rear stand and check both right and left hand prop stands for position angle.  More than likely this will require reshaping by bending to achieve a nice look, a proper angle when leaning on the prop stand, and a clearance for no fouling when folded up.

One other thing that requires attention prior to foot peg straightening, is to check the 1/2" through stud to which the foot peg hangers are attached.  Nine times out of ten this will be bent.  With the foot peg hanger bolt removed, it's a good time to check the double nut spacing of the battery tray.  If this in the past has been improperly adjusted, the right hand ear of the aluminum support plate is often bent one way or the other.  Remove battery tray, straighten aluminum ear.  This can usually be done with a large crescent wrench.  Reinstall battery tray and adjust double nuts to ensure when tightening the foot peg hanger bolt, that no movement of the ear is apparent.  Reassemble the hanger bolt and tighten.

Next check the condition of the foot peg hanger taper.  Early machines had steel spacers, right and left.  These tapers held up very well, and seldom need any type of lapping or fitting with their hanger components.  Later machines were all equipped with aluminum spacers.  If they haven't been tampered with, such as someone polishing and repolishing the taper, which is a no-no, they may require no attention.  I generally take bluing and blue the aluminum taper, take each of the left and right hangers, and see what taper contact I'm working with.  I'll have to tell you that on aluminum spacers, more than likely you'll have to spend some time lapping to get full contact.  When the tapers are properly fitted, a 300 lb. guy standing on the foot peg won't be able to move the foot peg hanger on it's taper.

Sometimes the quarter inch stop dowels have loosened and fallen out and the hanger turns on it's shouldered flat.  Occasionally this dowel pin in the right hand aluminum side has been wallored out to such an extent that it will require machine work.  I've found that the easiest way is to drill the wallored hole round, then, on the lathe, machine a steel oversized pin, sizing it on one end for interference fit on the drilled hole, and turn the protruding part back to one quarter inch.  Usually the pin on the left hand steel side is O.K.  If the pin is just loose on the right aluminum side, and not wallored, locktite and restake the inner side.

There are three places that things rub on Vincents.  We've already discussed the rear brake rods that rub on the rear frame member if not adjusted for clearance by bending the rear brake arms.  Another thing that rubs is the inner kicker arm on the exhaust pipe.  Usually this is caused by a poorly fitting after market exhaust pipe, where the tab is too long and won't allow the exhaust pipe to snuggle in closer to the engine when bolted up.  You can usually gain as much as an eighth of an inch by moving the kicker serration outboard prior to tightening.  Check to make sure that the kicker quadrant doesn't float inward so that you lose what you are trying to gain.  Kicker quadrant inflow can easily be adjust ed with shims.  This is also a good time to kick the engine through with the plugs removed several times to ensure that the meshing of the quadrant to the transmission kicker gear finds it's sweet spot each and every time with no jamming.

The brake side hanger most likely will require some attention.  If the hanger spacer isn't adequate in length, which often it's not, the hanger won't have adequate clearance between it's adjusting fulcrum and the clutch derby.  As the brake cable is attached to the foot peg hanger, improper clearance causes chafing of the adjustable section of the brake cable against the derby as well.  Shimming is the way to go to add clearance.  Shims are usually sold in eighth inch thicknesses to accomplish this.  Sometimes when shims are used, you have to increase the length of the dowel, so it can continue to do what it's supposed to do.

A free floating, nice looking brake lever is always a plus for an eye appealing restoration.  So often the aluminum pad when viewed from the side has an uphill look, and when viewed from the top has a bent out crooked look.

The brake pedal has a pivot bushing at the rear, a flange with a hole in it on the top, and then the threaded support part for the aluminum pad.  The first thing I do is ensure that there isn't excessive side slop at the brake levers pivot point.  This can usually be corrected with shims.  Next, with the cable adjusting end removed, allow the male tapered end of the adjusting part of the cable to extend fully into the taper of the foot peg hanger.  I generally disconnect the cable on both ends, then with one hand on the cable shroud, push the shroud's shouldered stop into the foot peg hanger, pulling the cable in taut.  I then turn the chamfer of the adjusting end perpendicular to the motorcycle, lift the brake lever upwards and determine whether it should be bent in or out to achieve alignment of the adjusting end of the cable and it's hole in the brake lever.

You go to all of this trouble to have a nice and free brake lever with a good snap back.  The brake assembly only has three springs to achieve this.  This would be the two top springs holding the brake shoes against the brake cam, and the small rear cable spring.  Friction in the cable is usually the cause of that mushy brake feeling when used.  One other thing to look for, for a good brake snap back is the inner serration square hold washers.  Over the years tightening and brinelling causes indents at the pressure points of the shoulder stops.  When these get too deep the serrated washer starts rubbing against the backing plate spindle boss.

Now it's time to straighten up the brake pad by bending the brake arm as necessary to achieve that nice professional appearance.  All bending now has to take place forward of the brake cable flange.
Max  Lambky  12/15/09

Vincent Restoration ( part 4) :  Most, if not all restorations, involve the seat.  The best restorations are accomplished by rebuilding an original.  Often when rebuilding an original seat the only items that will be retained are the rolled edge metal tool tray slide, the A frame containing the front seat tab mount, the two rear support tabs, the delta concave rear fender clearance shield, the two flat bar stiffener straps, and the horizontal loop tubing support.

In every case when restoring one of these old bikes, the ply board base, the foam and the cover, will have to be replaced if you're looking for a quality end product.  Sixty year old foam hardens and loses it's elasticity, the ply board laminations are usually separated and weak, and in the case of the Naugahide cover, where the backing was cotton cloth, the cotton has lost it's youthful vigor.  The cover, the ply board, and the foam are all readily available.  If the ply board on your old seat hasn't deteriorate too badly, you can easily use it for a template to cut a new one.  I make sure when I buy it, that I am buying waterproof marine ply board, instead of the commonplace interior/exterior that's bought at the local hardware store.  If you cut your own ply board base, make sure you sand the edges.  It's a good idea to sand a 1/8" radius on the lower edge of the ply board base, as it will greatly improve the longevity of the Naugahide cover.

For durability of metal parts, they can either be stripped, primered and painted, or powder coated.  On the seats that the Vincent company had made, the metal was all painted black as well as the ply board.  The covers were attached to the ply board bottom both by staples and by upholstery flat brads.  I prefer the brads.  To me it adds a touch of class.  In regard to the cover itself, you'll probably be happier if you have a reputable upholsterer who specializes in antique motorcycle seats, do the job, rather than using a seat cover manufactured in India.  And selection of the Naugahide is paramount in achieving a "Class Act" seat when finished.

It's time to talk about the woes of some of the after market seats.

Here are some of the things I've found to be unacceptable: The front ears too short, not allowing clearance between the seat and the rear of the tank.  Bottom A frame rear seat tabs either too close together or too far apart, causing binding of the friction shock uprights.  Seat base made from particle board.  Poorly fitting fiberglass, delta shaped, concave, clearance shield.  Poor glue adhesive.  Naugahide covering not even close to original.  Naugahide stitching not to original specs.

If you don't have a seat with your restoration, you have to work with what you do have.  If your bike by some misfortune has one of the aforementioned after market seats, I'd approach it like this:  Ensure that the A frame bottom bracket is correct.  Measure the center distance of the four tabs on the bike's rear frame member.  Ensure that the distance is the same on the bottom A frame attaching support of the seat at the rear.  This cannot be over emphasized, as it is very important for proper operation of the friction operated rear seat upright supports.  All friction is directed at the friction lining, and nowhere else, i.e. seat mounting bushings.  If you're satisfied that the seat mounting points are correct in regard to the mounting points on the bike and the rear swing arm, when friction knobs are backed off, the shock and spring boxes are removed, and that a free, effortless, up and down movement of the swing arm is achieved, (for this check I hang the bike with tie down straps located at the forks and at the rear of the fuel tank with my handy dandy homemade A frame), you can reinstall rear swing arm spring boxes and set the bike back on the ground.

I know it'll be hard to do, but for a nice job on the seat you'll more than likely have to throw away the entire after market seat except for the flat bar A frame with mounting tabs, and the foam portion of the seat.  If the delta concave splash shield on the rear of the seat is fiberglass, the only way to get a nice job is to take that piece, and the newly cut marine ply board to a local metal man that can form you a piece by hand, or if your talents lie in that area, and you can do it yourself, you'll save a buck or two.  So you salvage what you can, and undertake the above procedures where necessary.  More than likely you'll end up being a "happy camper" and proud of the end product, which will be functional and show worthy.  Max Lambky  12/16/09

Restoring a Vincent ( part 5):  Fitting an aftermarket rear stainless or aluminum fender can be approached by two different methods.  The first and most difficult method is to disregard all tabs on the rear fender brace, as to their location.  This requires scarfing of the two hinge ears, and scarfing the chain guard bracket ear.  By removing these ears, you can now fit the smaller radius after market fender, retaining the split radius equalization between the tire and the fender.  The split being the distance of travel fore and aft during chain adjustment.  When doing this there will be a three eighths inch closer distance between tire and fender, when compared to a factory radius fender installation.

When drilling the holes in the fenders, you have to consider where to start.  I generally start by fitting the front portion of the fender chain guard recess so that the radius over the chain guard looks appealing.  With the chain guard forward mount being bent, so as to align the chain in the center of the chain guard upper concave section, you can now lay the fender against the inner portion of the chain guard and mark with a felt tip the forward rear frame member fender tab hole location to the fender.  The reason you want to have the fender hard on to the inner chain guard portion, is because this is the closest distance between the tire and the fender, especially when the chain adjustment causes the wheel assembly to assume a forward position.  Keep in mind that we've lost distance between the tire and the fender, due to the lesser radius of the repop fender.  Also keep in mind that you can't increase the radius of the fender by bending, as when you try to do this the h!
orizontal cross section radius is reduced drastically.  This is another reason why you don't want to pull the fender into position with bolts.

You can now bolt your hinge halves to their appropriate fender sections, both fore and aft.  First you have to check the fender to ensure that the end was cut square.  Often they have to be squared before aligning the hinge to the fender and before drilling.  I always attach the forward hinge to the fender first, and drill the center hinge bolt hole first in the fender.  I then insert a four foot long eighth inch round stock through the hinge hole, and eyeball the rod to see that the hinge is square to the fender.  The fender will not lay in the hinge, the outboard edges of the fender will have approximately a quarter inch gap between the fender and the hinge.  You must make the fender lay hard on the hinge prior to drilling the two outboard holes.  You can readily understand why, as when you pull the fender hard on to the hinge, with C clamps to accomplish this, the fender arcs when pulled in.

Now you can drill the remaining two holes, insert bolts, and snug.  Of course for final assembly I select a position on the hex nut and make that position the same on all.   Small attention to details such as this adds to the "Wow" look of the finished product.

The tail portion of the fender is done the same way as the forward portion.  There's not much I can say about positioning the Tommy bar nut, the inner and outer stiffener brackets, and the riveting of the parts together.  I generally position the hole for the Tommy bar with the inner stiffening strap hole.

Now it's time to bolt the assembly together.  Attach the two hinges together using the scarfed off tabs.  Put the front fender bolt into the rear frame member tab and tighten.  You'll have to move the rear fender bracket slightly forward and position the tabs back on to the fender brace with small vise grips.  You'll find the location of the tabs approximately three eighths of an inch further down on the fender stay than before.  Do the same thing with the chain guard tab.  This tab will be longer than it was before.  The hinge tabs will angle down approximately one eighth of an inch at their rear.  Tack weld the three tabs into place.

It will be necessary to relocate the cross tubing and the triangle flanges on the rear center stand.  This is done by cutting the triangle flanges as close as possible to the prop stand tubing, then closing the hinge to eliminate any gap, tightening the severed crossbar with the Tommy bar to locate, then tack weld the severed crossbar back to the rear stand.

The second method will more than likely be the method of choice due to the desirability of saving time and work.  The first hole to drill in the front part of the fender is the center hinge hole.  Guide the fender into the radius of the hinge, eyeballing to center.  The forward edge of the fender should appear the same on both sides.  As I said before, the radius of the fender will not be the same as the radius of the hinge.  Mark the center hole with a felt tip.  Drill the hole and bolt up snug, then fit the fender forward and bring the fender within three eights of an inch of the front flange on the rear frame member.  With a felt tip, through the flange hole mark the fender.  Ensure that the fender is laying hard on to the chain guard when you do this.  Remove fender, drill hole, replace fender with a three eighths inch spacer, and snug the now two bolts.  Do the C clamp thing as previously explained in procedure number one.

The tail section drilling and assembly is the same as in procedure number one as well.  To achieve a nice closing feel, I slightly roll the trailing edge of the front fender portion towards the hinge with a ball peen hammer.  This allows the lip on the tail section to marry and slide and seal.  You'll more than likely have to play with the rear center stand to get the hinge to close up.   Max Lambky  12/17/09

Bezel Removal:   Bezel removal can be a real pistol.  A lot of the old iron will exhibit vise grip damage, and even in extreme cases, chisel marks created by some well meaning and dedicated novice.

The objective is to remove the bezel without distorting or destroying the beauty chrome.  The bezels on most speedos and tachs are quite thin, and usually made of brass.  Brass plates well, requiring no copper, so the bezels are normally nickel plated, then beauty chromed.

The best way to remove the bezel without damage takes a couple of days.  The first day is consumed with the bezel in a penetrant soak.  Fill a sauce pan about 1" deep with a good penetrant, then place the instrument face down in the penetrant.  After about six hours remove the instrument, and with a razor blade, try to remove the gasket between the bezel lip and the instrument face glass.  The gaskets are usually rubber or paper.  The purpose of removing the gasket is to allow passage of the penetrant to the threads in the opposite direction from the external soak.  Replace the instrument in the penetrant bath and wait until morning.

Remove and dry the instrument.  Wrap the outer circumference of the bezel three times with 1/2" masking tape.  With a rawhide mallet you can now tap lightly around the circumference of the bezel.  As the brass bezel is thin and relatively soft, the rawhide's light blow easily disturbs the female and male threads, and loosens any corrosion grip.   Don't tap on the bezel's glass flange, especially with the gasket removed.  It only takes a slightly enthusiastic blow with a mallet to cause the bezel to jump thread, thereby causing a cross threading of the bezel.  The masking tape protects the beauty chrome from damage.  Any blow on the bezel without this protection will inevitably cause chrome luster loss due to abrasion.

The next step is to mount the instrument securely so the bezel can be removed.  The Shadow speedo can easily be mounted in a vise with the mounting plate still attached.  The Rapide speedo can be mounted as well in a vise, leaving the mounting plate attached.

The trouble with a strap wrench is that the cam action required to tighten causes a hard pressure point on the circumference of the bezel at the point of the cam action.  The best method is to modify a ring compressor.  This would be the type that has a ratchet band around an expandable, contractible, metal cylinder.  The modification is to shorten the ring compressor to the tightening ratchet band.

With the protective masking tape still in place you can proceed.  The masking tape serves two purposes, it provides a high friction coefficient surface and protection to the beauty chrome.  Place the ring compressor over the bezel, lining up the bottom of the bezel with the bottom of the ring compressor ratchet tightening band.  Now tighten the ring compressor.  The ratchet portion of the ring compressor protrudes out about a half an inch, and provides a surface that can be tapped on with a rawhide mallet.  The tapping acts like an impact wrench, and breaks the bezel loose with ease.  If the bezel turns with difficulty it's usually because you have the ring compressor too tight.  Loosen, and the bezel can be removed with no problem, and if you use this method zero damage will be incurred.

Max Lambky  2/21/10

 Brake Restoration Tips

The invention of the wheel made it possible to move mass in a more efficient way, but then came the problem of stopping the mass.  Hence the invention of brakes. Brakes have evolved from foot dragging to retro rockets, but unfortunately, the Vincent brake, it seems, is nearer the former than the latter.  So with this in mind, if aiming for a proper restoration, brakes must be considered.  At first glance it doesn't seem to be such a big deal to go through the brakes.  Those who have, have probably learned the hard way that it ain't necessarily so.

It should be noted that the surface area of the braking mechanism on a Vincent, along with all of the mechanical leverages which determine surface area contact pressure, with the drum diameter to wheel diameter factor, when all are fitted properly, are adequate to lock up both front and rear tires in most cases on a dry surface when brakes are cold.  With the four brake drum design, (excluding the D's, of course, with the three drum design) it's more difficult to achieve 100% efficiency, due to the extensive amount of brake parts that move each time the brakes are applied.  Optimum equal pressures and optimum surface area contact aren't easy to achieve.  The two front wheel brake drums, by utilizing a balance beam when the brake is applied, provide equal shoe pressure.  Not the case with the rear brake.  It's almost impossible to achieve equal shoe pressure to drums on the rear brake mechanism, and usually only an experienced wrench can achieve best results from the adjusting wing nuts.

When brake restoration is undertaken, one of the important factors is how true the drum rotates with the wheel axis.  Most restorers who "over restore" the Vincent often get carried away with polishing hubs, chrome plating spoke rings, and painting brake drums.  All of this can be done, if done properly, but sometimes it isn't.  The brake drum is shouldered on the hub for alignment.  The aligning shoulder on the hub, and the mating surface of the hub must not be disturbed during polishing.  If there's any doubt that the hub flange mating surface doesn't run true, it's a good idea to take a light truing cut in the lathe.  Next comes the plating of the spoke rings.  Best to do your own preparation work prior to sending it off to the plater.  When you do this, take a felt tip pen and mark the inner and outer mating surface, that's the surface where the 5 or 10 bolt hole pattern exists.  Mark the surfaces.  Do not plate.  The plater has a way to mask the area not to be plated.  Next, inspect the paint job on the brake drum, and remove any runs or paint on the outer mating surface to the spoke ring and any paint that may be on the aligning bore of the drum.

After going through the steps above you're pretty much certain that you've eliminated any wobble of the brake drum.  This would be a port and starboard movement of the brake drum in relation to the wheel's hub.  The next step is to see if the brake drum's friction surface is concentric with the hub's aligning shoulder.  This can be accomplished by truing the wheel hub in the lathe, then bolting the brake drum to the wheel hub and dialing in, checking the concentric of the drum.  In most cases it requires a very light cut to clean any rust deterioration, any surface scoring, and any out of roundness from a long time sitter.  Usually 5 to 10 thousandths will do the job.

The next thing to make ready are the brake shoes.  The original brake shoes were riveted, various linings of different compositions were also offered, and still are.  The green lining seems to be the preference of most restorers, but most other linings work as well.  If you have the option to go with bonded lining or riveted lining, go with the bonded lining.  If for no other reason than that you gain contact area lining to drum.
It's virtually impossible to achieve an adequate mating surface arc of the brake shoes without dressing the surface in a lathe.  Dressing the surface isn't as straightforward as most would like to believe.  Doing it properly requires a jig fixture to locate the shoes in the lathe for machining, and building the fixture isn't that difficult.  With an 8" diameter 2" thick piece of aluminum, turn a 1 3/4"X 2" diameter stub.  Then chuck and true stub in 4  jaw chuck.  Take a truing cut on 1/2" thick 8" diameter flange.  You're now ready to drill the fixture to accept the dowels that will become the two brake shoe pivot pins.  One other precision hole will be required, and that's the bore in the plate that will accept the brake cam pin.  This hole should be made a tight fit as well.  Keep in mind that when setting up to drill the three holes, these are precision holes and must be done to a tolerance of plus or minus .001.  So with your best Vincent backing plate, measure well, then take a cut to true the outside diameter of the 1/2" flange.

The next step is to mike the four brake cams.  This would be the thickness of the cam flats.  Select the thickest of the four and use this one for your jig fixture.

Now it's time to profile the brake shoes.  Hopefully you marked the shoes in some way prior to having bonded lining applied.  It's like anything else mechanical, where parts can be swapped, it's always best that they go back into their original location.  If their location has been lost in the heat of things, with the four backing plates, shoes, and springs removed, you can usually fit the brake shoe by slipping the brake shoe over the pivot pin and turning the shoe towards the brake cam.  The shoe shouldn't hang up on the brake cam outer guide plates.  It takes a bit of fiddling, but by doing this you'll probably come up with pretty much where they were located originally.

The next step is to identify each of the brake backing plates as to their location on the bike.  An easy one will be the right front, as it will have a hole in it  to accept the speedo angle drive.  On most bikes the left hand side is identifiable by the water excluder, or in the absence of the water excluder, the rivet holes identify it.  The rear backing plates are normally the same, and are interchangeable.  Sometimes you'll encounter a machine wherein someone has discarded the larger side car sprocket, and installed a water excluder. In this case if not previously identified, it will be anybody's guess as to the left side backing plate, and the right side rear backing plate locations.  You might be able to detect a support wear pattern on the rear brake cam spindle brake backing plate boss.  After you've made a decision on brake backing plate location, and have the brake shoes fitted to the backing plates, it's time to match by felt tip marking, the brake shoes to the brake drums in which they'll operate.  One other mark to put on the brake shoes is the outboard location mark.  This will prevent inadvertently reversing the brake shoe location after machining, which is easy to do, as everything is identical in appearance, but not in actuality.

Now for the turning of the brake shoe linings.  Place your jig in the lathe, using a four jaw.  On the outer edge of the flange, eyeball and mark a felt tip line directly outboard of the center of the two brake shoe pins.  Dial the outer surface of the flange so it cams minus .005 at the felt tip mark.  Place the first pair of linings in the jig fixture.  With an inside mike, mike the drum in which they'll eventually find a home.  Adjust the cutter on the compound to turn the exact diameter of the brake drum, then subtract .005.  Using shims between the brake cam surface and the brake shoe flat, shim the lining's circumference on the trailing edge of the forward brake shoe, and do the same with the rear shoe, shimming the lining to the leading edge of the rear shoe.  From now on I'll refer to shoes as front and rear, no matter whether they're left side or right side brakes.

If you have properly shimmed the shoes, it's time to fix the brake shoes to the jig.  This can be accomplished by wrapping keying wire tightly around the spring shoe fingers.  When a cut is made, it will take a cut on the full circumference of both the front and rear shoe linings, taking approximately .004 more from the leading edge of the front shoe, and .004 more from the trailing edge of the rear shoe.  After this is done, mike the thickness of the total shims on each shoe.  Subtract .015 from the shim thickness, using standard mild steel cam scrub plates, you can achieve the .015 minus, by either shimming underneath the scrub plate by slightly loosening the ear tabs by bending, or if the scrub plate is too thick, you can file the aluminum brake shoe flat and rebend the scrub plate for a tight fit.

Now it's time to cam the leading and trailing edges of the brake shoe linings.  This is done by using 80 grit sandpaper wrapped around a block of wood.  This work is best done by placing the brake shoe in a vise and sanding with the block of wood to achieve uniformity across the width of the shoe lining. It's best to identify leading and trailing edges prior to chamfering, as the chamfering is somewhat different.  The reason to chamfer is to provide smooth engagement and smooth release from the drum.  Chamfering also prevents inadvertent lock up.  You don't have to go to extremes to achieve the desired results.  The angle of the chamfer and the depth of the chamfer causes a reduction in the surface area of the brake shoe lining that contacts the drum when increased, and reduces braking efficiency.  In lieu of this, it's recommended that when chamfering or relieving leading and trailing edges, that care be taken not to remove too much.  For best efficiency during the lifespan of a set of brake linings, as the brake linings wear, it's not uncommon to rechamfer or relieve possibly three times during the lining's life.  Doing this allows optimum lining area to drum during the lifespan of your brakes.

The next step is to straighten your backing plates.  Chuck up your hollow axle in the lathe and true.  Place the tapered bearing on the hollow axle, using it as a spacer, then take the backing plate and nut it on the hollow axle tightly.  With the paint removed from the brake backing plate, place a dial indicator on the outboard surface as close to the outboard circumference of the plate as possible.  Make sure that you're not hitting anything.  Turn the lathe by hand to see if there's any wobble in the plate.  If you find the plate is distorted, causing wobble, you'll have to straighten the plate.  Don't try to straighten the plate while it's in the lathe or attached to the hollow axle.  After straightening, recheck.  You're looking for a maximum runout of no more than .005.

The next step is to check the straightness of the brake shoe pivot pins.  These can readily be checked with a small machinist' square.  Straighten as necessary.  Now check to insure that the brake cam has adequate end float in it's backing plate bore for proper operation.  When this is done you can paint the backing plate and install any water excluder as required.  You can now install the brake shoes.  When doing so, insure the brake shoes float nicely in their pivot points.  Sometimes it will require a light ream job to achieve freedom of movement.  It's a good idea to lightly grease the pins and the backing plate cam boss prior to assembly.  Use the grease sparingly to prevent any from finding it's way into the shoe linings.  It's always a good idea to assemble with new brake springs.  This helps unintended brake drag, which isn't a good thing.  It can cause heat build up, lining wear, and brake fade.

After everything is put back together, this is what you should have:

When the brake cable arm is rotated approximately 15o to 20o, you'll experience full braking, nearing lock up.  Due to the mechanical design of the single leading shoe, when the brake is applied the front shoe lining of the front wheel comes into contact at it's leading edge first.  Next the leading edge of the rear shoe lining comes into contact, but has more lining pressure to drum than the front shoe leading edge pressure.  This is due to mechanical advantage, as the rear shoe distance between it's pivot point and the point of contact of the cam is greater.  This is the reason that the rear shoe lining wears out faster than the front shoe lining.  The machining procedure, which actually offsets the brake shoe lining circumference to the brake drum circumference is done to enhance a proper bedding in of the brake shoe lining to the drum.    Max Lambky  2/22/10

 Chain and Sprocket Restoration Tips

Walk into any motorcycle shop, and you'll find that spark plug you're looking for, as well as the battery, the tire, the light bulb, and the chain.  There are two reasons that this is almost 100% assured.  The first is  standardization, which limits various configurations, and second is that they usually only stock the parts that have short life.

Some items have a relatively short life span, such as sprockets.  Of course this would exclude sprockets that run in oil, such as primary sprockets in a Vincent.  You probably won't have to renew primary sprockets during your Vincent restoration, and your motorcycle parts supplier probably won't have on the shelf a new sprocket to replace your worn sprocket anyway.  There are thousands of various motorcycle sprockets, which prohibits the motorcycle parts supplier from stocking all of them.  In the case of the Vincent, there were something like 31 different sprockets, including the aluminum Lightning rear sprockets, where the brake drum was removed, and the sprockets had a 10 bolt pattern bolted directly to the hub spacer. These were made available through the Vincent spares department and Vincent dealers.  So in short, sprocket procurement will more than likely have to be done by special order.

For a sound restoration, the sprocket condition must be determined for long life of a new chain.  Some things go hand in hand with the conception of a restoration.  A new chain is one of them.  In most cases, a simple visual inspection will give the restorer a pretty good idea of whether the sprockets should be renewed.  The large side car sprocket usually has received little wear, if any.  Just a quick eyeball of the two sprockets tooth configuration,  without any measuring, more than likely will tell the restorer if the sprockets should be replaced.

Keep in mind, for the concourse restoration, an 'as new' sprocket is the way to go.  An easy way to determine an 'as new' condition is to measure your new chain's roller diameter.  Turn a rod the size of the diameter of the roller in the lathe.  With a fine point felt tip make two marks 180o apart horizontally on the turned rod.  You can now place the rod in the sprocket's tooth root.  What you're trying to determine is whether the sprocket has worn, changing it's true 180o circumference radius at it's root.  A worn sprocket changes the true circumference to a football shaped radius.  You should be able to lay the turned rod in the sprocket's root, and the felt tip lines should be just showing before the root circumference turns into a cammed radius to the tooth's apex.  By using this method a restorer will be able to determine without a doubt, whether the sprocket is in 'as new' condition.

If the bike being restored is to assume as close to original appearance when finished, chain selection is important.  I do believe all rear chains on B's C's and D's were of Reynolds manufacture.  The outer links were of the 'hourglass' shape, and were periodically stamped Reynolds.  There were two chain sizes on the rear.  Chain size 530 were for street machines, both twins and singles, 520 chains were used on the racers, Lightnings, and Grey Flashes.

Determining the number of chain links required can best be accomplished by the following method; but first, it's helpful to understand some of the geometry that goes into chaining together two different circumferences, where the center distance of the circumference from each can be varied.  Two things change when increasing the number of teeth on both the counter sprocket and the rear wheel sprocket.  The sprocket circumference increases, as well as the diameter.  The number of teeth added is consistent with the number of chain links required, when a larger sprocket is used; however, the diameter of the sprocket increases, thereby increasing the distance of the center lines from each other equally, on the top rung of the chain and the lower rung of the chain, requiring additional links to retain the same sprocket center distance.  Also the linier length of the radius increases, thereby requiring additional overall length of chain.

The B rear swing arm is 1" shorter than the C.  This is the measurement from the swing arm center pivot point to the root of the machined horseshoe that accepts the rear axle.  In lieu of the different lengths in the swing arms, a C requires a longer chain than a B, even though the number of teeth on the two machines sprockets are the same.

It's advisable to purchase a 120 link chain as well as 3 master links.  If you've decided to purchase a Reynolds name brand chain, your source will probably have to be in the UK.

Now it's time to determine proper chain length.  With new, or 'as new' sprockets and a new chain, back off on the rear wheel chain adjusters where the adjuster is no longer visible, at the root of the swing arm's machined horseshoe.  Place the wheel in position, sliding the axle all the way forward until it comes into contact with the horseshoe's circumference end.  Tighten the axle to hold the wheel in that position.  Now roll the new chain over the counter sprocket and place the chain's end halfway around the rear sprocket.  Holding the rear tire with your right hand, and with the motorcycle on it's rear stand and out of gear, grab the bottom rung of the chain and pull tightly.  You won't be able to pull the top rung straight.  There will be a slight sag in the top rung.  Engage the chain with the rear sprocket as tightly as you can.  Roll the chain around the bottom of the sprocket until it reaches it's bitter end.  Determine if the chain can be parted, and can accept a master link in this position.  If not, slacken off the bottom chain rung one tooth, and mark the chain link to be separated.  Part the marked link with a quality chain separator tool.  If you don't have a tool available, you can grind off the flare of the chain's through pins with a hand grinder, and with a small punch and a ball peen hammer, you can readily split the chain to it's proper length.  After this is done, go through the previous steps and install the master link.  The master link lock plate should be installed horseshoe end in direction of the rotation.  Determining chain length in this manner gives you optimum chain adjustment for the duration of the life of the chain and sprockets.

The next step is to determine the length of the chain required to run the lower overall gear sidecar sprocket.  Remove the wheel, turn the wheel around, and go through the same procedure as before.  Determine the number of links that will have to be added to the chain to run the larger diameter sprocket.  Part the leftover chain from the 120 link starter chain, and install the two extra purchased master links on each end of the chain for safekeeping.  It's recommended that you carry this short length of chain in your tool tray.   Max Lambky  2/24/10

Transmission Restoration, V Twin (part 1)

All B, C, and D twin transmissions were basically the same.  However, from 1946 to 1955, minor weak points in the original concept were discovered. The right hand crankcase casting was modified in the transmission area, in that additional meat was added for greater support of the shifter cam spindle and the shifter shaft support area.  The cam plate shifter quadrant received a support band around the shifter shaft coupler tongs.  The shifter pawl adjusting plate received over shift stop gears.  The Lightnings, if ordered, had a higher low gear ratio than the standard pedestrian twins, G9/1 had 21 teeth, G11/3 had 27 teeth, that would be the double gear.  The Shadow and Lightning shifter cam plate can be identified by a series of quarter inch lightening holes.  The transmission counter shaft sprockets can be identified in the following manner.  A road model sprocket is solid, except some Shadows, not all, were drilled for lightening, and had 21 teeth, giving an overall delivered gear ratio of 3.50 to 1.  Lightnings were thinner, to accept the 520 chain drilled for lightening, and had 22 teeth.  Most Lightnings left the factory with an overall gear ratio of 3.27 to 1.  During the Korean war, some metals weren't available.  Transmission gears suffered during this era, with low grade gears.  These gears can be identified by their number, 352.  Vincent transmission gears that are identified by designation number such as EN36 are of better quality, much stronger.

If the motorcycle is in running order, it's a good idea to take it around the block a couple of times prior to tear down and restoration, to determine the preliminary condition of the transmission.  Finding out how it shifts, and finding any obvious defects, like jumping out of gear, or excessive noise emanating from the transmission area, could be helpful later on.

Start your tear down by swinging the rear brake pedal assembly out of the way of the primary.  Place the bike on the rear stand.  Swing the front stands into position to achieve a four point support for the machine.  Remove the clutch derby.  Place a drain pan under the transmission area.  Remove the drain plug from the primary chain cavity.  Now go to the right side and remove the transmission drain plug, found forward of the transmission shift cover in the right hand crankcase side.  The drain pan should have a capacity of four quarts.  Now remove the clutch assembly.  Inspect the area directly below the now visible primary cover seal. If dry and free from excessive oil, the replacement of the seal probably won't be necessary.  When there's no drip from the primary drain plug, you can remove the primary chain cover.  Inspect the primary seal again.  It should be soft and flexible to the touch, with no hardness and no visible cracks to the rubber seal portion.  If the seal appears suspect in any way, replace it.

You can now remove the primary chain clutch sprocket and the crankshaft sprocket.  Inspect the retaining bolts of the transmission door.  They should be drilled and safety wired.  Often they're not.  The reason for the safety wire necessity is the fact that the door receives a twisting torque caused by the lay shaft gear cluster trying to climb the main shaft cluster during acceleration and deceleration.  The visible hex head cam plate indent plunger and spring assembly must be safety wired as well.  The twisting torque has a tendency to loosen the retaining bolts, and loosen the aligning dowel in the bottom circumference of the transmission door.  Next inspect the transmission's main shaft end clearance.  This is easily done by taking the exposed main shaft and moving it athortship back and forth.  The end clearance shouldn't exceed .007.  If .007 is exceeded, write down in your tear down reference notes, the amount of shimming required to achieve a .005 to .007 end float.

You can now go to the right side and remove the exhaust pipes.  Remove the adjusting screw on the transmission shifter cover.  Remove the clutch cable access cover.  Unhook the clutch cable from the clutch release arm.  Remove the clutch cable from it's clutch cable housing stop bore.  Place cable out of the way.  Shift transmission into neutral.  Remove shift lever, kick start lever, and transmission gear indicator arm.

As the transmission shifter cam plate spindle is under the battery tray, it's necessary to remove items in order to gain access.  Remove battery, battery strap, and the battery tray support bolt.  You can now swing the battery tray up and out of the way.  Swing the right hand foot peg assembly up and out of the way.

Place a pair of vise grips on the shaft of the gear selector positioning pointer.  Feel for any slack or backlash between the shifter cam plate bevel gear and the bevel tooth quadrant.  You're testing for excessive gear wear, and improper fitting of parts.  The proper mesh of the bevel gear and cam gear is important for a nicely shifting transmission.  Often the shaft alignment through the transmission cover is out of align, causing friction between the shaft and the outer cover, which every time causes an ill shifting transmission.  This is especially true when using a cover from another engine, or a reproduction cover.

You can now remove outer transmission shifter cover.  Remove kicker quadrant, inner shifter arm, and shifter pawl assembly.  Leave the adjustable stop tab in place.  Before removal of the adjustable pivot for the inner shifter arm, scribe it's adjusted position around the two washers. The pot metal slotted pivot pin support scribes easily.  When the transmission is reassembled, this gives you a good starting point for shifter adjustment.  Now you can remove the pot metal slotted support pivot pin piece.  Next remove the circlip from the transmission main shaft, and remove the kicker ratchet assembly.  Remove the clutch rod assembly.  The very first clutch rods were of one piece.  The one piece assembly caused excessive wear to the throw out arm.  The multi piece throw out rods reduced wear drastically, but didn't eliminate it totally.

After accomplishing all of the above, you will have total access to remove the transmission shifter mechanism dust shield.  This pops out easily with a screwdriver in the slot provided.  The felt seal is now exposed and can be removed.  More than likely it'll be reusable.

Next remove the counter shaft sprocket nut.  You'll find the nut is staked, probably in more than one place near the trailing edge of the nut thread in relation to the transmission sprocket spline.  Probably the nut will have chisel marks from previous removal, due to the fact that most home tool boxes don't contain a large enough socket.  When this is encountered, renew the nut.  Getting rid of the ugly always makes you feel better.  After the nut and the female dust cup are removed, you can check the counter shaft sprocket's splines.  If the spline mating surfaces are too loose, it will cause a hammering action, which in time will eliminate the sprocket spline altogether.  Not a good thing.     Max  Lambky  3/3/10

 Transmission Restoration V Twin (part 2)

Remove the safety wire bolts, securing the transmission bore to the left hand engine crankcase.  Remove the shifter cam plate indent plunger assembly from the transmission door.  With a heavy duty stubbie screwdriver, remove the shifter cam plate spindle screw.  It's located at the top of the transmission in the right hand engine case, near the mating surfaces of the two cases.  The spindle is usually staked.  More often than not the spindle is easily removed without much trouble, but sometimes you need a scribe to catch the threads for removal.

You are now ready to remove the transmission gears and shafts from the transmission cavity.  With a rawhide or rubber mallet, from the right hand side of the motorcycle, hit the mainshaft on the end, driving the transmission door from it's mating support bore in the engine's left hand case.  Remove from the left hand side, the transmission door and mainshaft.  Most of the time the layshaft will come out from the door, along with some gears.  The rest of the transmission parts will find their way into the bottom of the transmission cavity.  Don't worry about this.  Even with no manual of any kind, the transmission will only go together one way.  The only parts that now remain together are the layshaft bearings in the transmission door, the right hand engine case, and the two bearings of the mainshaft, one in the transmission door, the other in the right hand engine case.  These bearings rarely need replacement.  The two layshaft bearings usually require heat from a torch to remove.  The layshaft transmission door bearing is the easiest, due to the mass of the door.  The layshaft bearing in the right hand engine case rests in a blind bore.  This is the hardest bearing to remove.  The best tool to remove the bearing is a valve seat removing tool.  It will fit quite nicely within the radius of the inner race nearest the engine case, when the lip is expanded.  You can then use the knocker, and with minor heat on the case, the bearing can easily be removed.  The mainshaft bearings can be removed with a half inch drift, tapping in a circular motion around the inner race.  On the right hand case bearing, sometimes it's a good idea to, with a dremmel tool and a small rotary file, relieve the stake overlap.  The transmission door main shaft bearing is the thrust bearing of the transmission.  The bearing is captured with a lock ring nut on one side and the door housing bore shoulder on the other.  This bearing is the aligning bearing of the whole transmission assembly to the engine cases.  The lock ring nut must be made tight to insure proper positioning of the thrust bearing.  The lock ring nut is keyed into position with a split pin, or for the US guys, a cotter pin.  Drill the split pin hole accordingly to achieve this.

Install the shifter cam spindle, insuring that the spindle reaches it's shouldered stop.  Place the shifter cam in the palm of your left hand.  Note the indents on the outer edge of the cam plate.  There are five indents, four of which are for positioning each gear of the four speed transmission.  The fifth indent is for neutral.  If not marked with an end. It's the second indent, turning the cam plate in the direction of rotation.  Place the neutral indent towards your body.  Slide the cam plate into the transmission cavity, and marry the spindle pin to the female bore of the cam plate.  Push upward.  The bevel teeth of the cam plate should mesh with the bevel tooth shifter quadrant with zero backlash, before the top of the bevel gear on the cam plate hits the shoulder of the transmission cam spindle.  If you can't achieve zero backlash by doing this, you must place a small shim under the spindle before screwing it home, or with a grinder, move the shoulder of the pin closer to the threaded end.  Remove the cam plate and inspect the beveled gear.  If excessive wear is noted, the gear should be replaced.

Next, inspect the shifter forks.  One fork is female and one fork is male.  First check for the straightness of the fork.  This can easily be done on the table of a mill.  Place the fork flat with the cam pin between the T nut slots.  Check for a 90o angle of the male shifting fork with a machinists' square.  Turn a biscuit in the lathe from wood, metal, plastic, or anything that just fits in the female portion of the female shifter fork.  With a second biscuit, 1/2" thick and a smaller diameter, you can now check the female shifting fork the same way.

Check the shifting fork pins for wear.  Often you'll find worn flats 180o from each other on the pin.  If you find this to be the case, the pins will have to be replaced.  Sometimes you're able to remove the pin with a drift punch, turn the pin around, and insert, using locktight.  Insure that you don't push the pin in too far.  Strive to maintain it's original proud position.

There are two reasons a restorer or mechanic gives attention to the transmission.  The restorer often is only giving the transmission a thorough look-see, trying to ascertain whether all of the parts are serviceable, and will operate in an 'as new' condition.  The mechanic is usually fixing a malfunction of some sort.  More than likely the problem will be a broken gear, or a transmission that won't stay in gear, or a transmission that doesn't shift properly.  Transmission gears should be inspected for missing teeth and meshing teeth.

The Vincent transmission has what is referred to as a 'straight cut gear'.  If the shafts of a straight cut gear mesh are straight, there should be no thrust of the gears, assuming that the meshing teeth are in good condition.  When the meshing engaging teeth of a Vincent transmission become worn and lose the tooth's cam chamfer, which holds the gear in mesh, the transmission gear pops out.  The thrust created by the worn tooth becomes greater than the force of the shifter cam spring loaded indent plunger.

If the transmission tear down was for a restoration, inspect all of the gears and the four bushings for excessive wear and condition.  If the transmission was torn down for repair, a more thorough inspection of all transmission parts will be necessary.  If for instance, the transmission was popping out of second gear, more than likely the meshing teeth are beyond repair and the two meshing gears will have to be replaced.  When the transmission is restored or repaired, always replace the right hand engine case seal.  This particular seal receives the most abuse, and wears more quickly than any other.

One other most IMPORTANT tidbit--when performing a crankshaft out restoration, where the engine cases are split, insure that the transmission bevel gear shifter quadrant is installed along with it's stop positioning spring.

It may be more convenient, and provide more access, to remove the rear carburetor assembly and place out of the way.  The early B's, had the larger diameter generator, which may need to be removed for access to the cam plate shifter spindle.    Max Lambky 3/3/10

Transmission Restoration V Twin (part 3)

If you've gone through the previous steps religiously, and all parts have been thoroughly cleaned, inspected, and repaired as necessary, you are ready to reassemble the transmission and replace it in it's home.

On the workbench, assemble all of the transmission shafts, gears, spacers, shifter forks, and shifter cam plate.  The transmission will only go together one way.  Place the transmission door in a vise, clamping at the bottom where the aligning dowel pin hole is.  Allow enough clearance so that the transmission gear assembly can be inserted into the transmission door.  When the transmission is assembled in it's cluster, you can easily wrap your hands around the cluster and insert it into the transmission door.  When the mainshaft and the layshaft are lined up and started in their bearings, you can take a rubber mallet and gently tap home.  Turn the shifter cam plate, engaging low gear.  Insert the indent plunger assembly into the transmission door, and turn hex approximately two turns, engaging two threads.  The indent plunger and the shifter cam plate indent should now be in line.  Insert from the right side, the shifter shaft into the shifter quadrant.  It's a good idea not to depend on the shifter quadrant gear spring to hold in place during assembly of the cam plate bevel gear in proper mesh with the quadrant gear teeth.  THIS IS CRITICAL.  If the mesh is one tooth off, the forth gear shift will not be achievable.  Place a pair of visegrips on the shifter shaft so that the weight of the visegrip handle provides additional help to hold the quadrant in place while assembling.  Permatex the door area on the left hand engine case, using non-hardening Permatex.  You can now remove the transmission cluster and transmission door from the vise, and insert it gently through the opening, which requires an up and down manipulation, so none of the gears or cam plate is disturbed during this operation.  There is a 'feel' when the mainshaft assembly enters the right hand side engine case bearing.  Next, you will 'feel' the shifter fork shaft engage in it's bore, and lastly the layshaft entering it's bearing bore.  You can now, with a rubber mallet, tap on the transmission door lightly.  Do not tap on the protruding transmission mainshaft, as this will move the gears and rotate the cam plate, which is a no-no for proper tooth engagement of the cam plate bevel gear and the shifter quadrant bevel gear.

Install two bolts in the transmission door, 180o apart, and tighten.  Now insert the cam plate spindle.  If the spindle does not fall home to it's threaded end, the cam plate bore is not in align.  Remove the cam spindle, and with a scribe, feel, and line up the cam plate.  The cam plate will shift into aligning position easily.  Reinsert the cam plate spindle pin.  It should align and fall into it's threaded end.  Screw the cam plate spindle home, and tighten.  Do not stake the spindle at this time.  Spindle staking is done after you're satisfied that the transmission shifts properly.

Tighten the plunger indent assembly.  It's now time to check and see if the transmission shifts.  While turning the transmission main shaft in the direction of rotation, go through the four gears and neutral, by turning the shifter shaft with the visegrips.  If all's well you'll hear the spring loaded pawl plunger clicking into the cam plate indent.  You should 'feel' when the indent is engaged, except for neutral, and if all's well, you should 'feel' a geared power transmission from the left hand mainshaft to the right hand counter sprocket spline shaft.

You can now finish bolting everything together.  Use your Vincent Owners Handbook for transmission shifting adjustments.  Max Lambky  3/3/10

Gas Tank Procedures
              Mounting and Preprep    ( part of the Vincent Restoration Series by Max Lambky)        

 On almost all motorcycles, the crown of the restoration is the gas tank.  This is what you see first when you walk up to a bike, as the gas tank is the primary identification of the marque.  Any blem, or something that just doesn't look right, i.e., striping, logo badges, gas cap, and in the case of the Vincent, of course, the Mercury Crest.  Before you bring the gas tank to a concourse state cosmetically, it's a good idea to do some preliminaries. 

First determine if the tank you have is the tank you want.  Often basket cases are a hodgepodge of this and that Vincent parts.  There were four tanks made for Vincents, and possibly one other for prototype Indian Vincents.  The outside configurations were all the same, but the bottom cavities provided for carburetor clearance and frame clearance were quite different.  Rapides normally had a smaller cavity in both the B's and C's., than the Shadows in the B's and C's.  The D tank won't fit on the B's and C's due to only requiring a narrow alleyway to clear the strong back tube of the D frame.  The D had about a gallon extra fuel capacity due to it's tank belly pan configuration.  The factory Lightnings were all custom clearanced as to carburetors. 

The soundness of the tank is most important.  Does it leak?  Does it contain rust?  How much body putty is on the tank, if any?  Will it require a tank liner application?  Are all of the tabs correct in separation width?  Does the tank still retain the tire pump bracketry? 

Prior to checking for leaks on a tank that's been setting for a long period of time, it's a good idea to wash the tank innards with muriatic acid.  The muriatic acid will attack those tiny stubborn rust particles that may be plugging up a pin hole in the gas tank that's not detected until a week later when you're 100 miles away from home on your first ride after restoration.  Make sure when you use muriatic acid that you use gloves and eye protective gear.  You MUST neutralize the muriatic acid.  Failure to do so will ruin the tank.  Neutralization can be done with a garden hose placed in the tank running, to allow a six hour or more purge.  Now with a light and a mirror, determine the condition of the tank innards.  Fill the tank with water.  Plug the two drain bungs.  Make a quick gas cap with a fitting of some sort, that will accept a controllable air hose.  Pressurize the tank to not more than 1  1/2 lbs.   Dry off any water spillage with a blow dryer.  Hold the pressure for at least 5 minutes.  If any leaks are detected, repair externally as required.  Gas welding is the best method.  Brazing is the last resort, as sometimes brazing fluxes.  Don't allow brass to steel marrying.  Brazing may hold for as much as a month or so, but eventually gasoline liquefies the flux between the steel and brass surface, and a leak is inevitable.  The same problem occurs with some silver solders, and some lead solders as well.  

Go over the entire tank with a pneumatic palm sander to remove all the paint.  If there's no primer underneath the black or red, or in the rarest of rare cases, blue tank, it will more than likely be the original paint, as the gas tanks were originally dipped without primer in the case of the black tanks.  I'm not sure about the red or the rare blue, they might have been spray painted, and could have been primered.  If excessive body putty is detected after removal of all paint, a determination is necessary as to whether a portion of the bottom of the tank has to be removed for an access hole, to hammer and dolly back into shape.  If the bottom must be opened, use a thin blade metal cutting saber saw.  When reaffixing the metal door, first drill a series of 1/8" holes, 1/4" away from the edge of the hole in the tank. usually 4 will suffice.  Cut 4 metal tabs from 16 gauge steel sheet, approximately 1" long, 1/2" wide.  Use needle nose vise grips to clamp the tabs to the opening.  The tab should protrude 1/2".  Gas weld the tab in position with a button weld at the 1/8" drilled hole.  With the tank upside down, position the door in place.  Start the weld of the door by tack welding at the four tab areas.  This helps prevent any warping that may occur when final welding is completed.  Retest for any weld leaks.  It's a good idea to use a modern day tank liner.  Make sure the directions are followed, and most importantly, note whether the maker states that the liner is impervious to alcohol.  The reason for this is that modern day fuels often contain a small percent of alcohol.  Around 10% I believe.  Prior to installing tank liner sealant, put a few nuts and bolts in the tank and rattle them over all welded areas to remove weld slag.  Clean weld slag thoroughly from gas tank.  

Next the tank must be fitted to the frame.  There are four mounting points, the rear being a Siamized mounting system.  There are four rubbers, front tank ears right and left, and two rubbers, upper and lower at the rear.  A common problem with Vincent gas tanks is that the foreword ears, and sometimes the gas tank itself, has been squeezed together, decreasing the distance between the two tank mounting ears.  In the Vincent motorcycle parts list book, MO19 shows FT80, the front tank rubber, pointing the wrong direction.  The larger diameter of the rubber should go inboard against the steering head casting.  If the rubber is installed incorrectly, the shouldered bolt puts pressure on the tank, bending the ears.  With new rubbers installed properly without the tank, measure with calipers the distance from the large diameter shoulder of the rubber left and right.  Measure the fuel tank flanges.  The flanges should measure 1/8" less than the rubber shouldered distance.  This will allow, when installed, 1/16" crush on either side, allowing proper elasticity of the rubber mounts.  Too much crush reduces elasticity.  A portapower with a scissor tool can be used to open up the tank ear distance. 

Now the rear tank rubbers.  First check to see that the tank is installed, and front rubbers are tightened to full tube lock of shouldered bolt with washer, and the two tank rear mounting slots are wide enough so that the retaining bolts can be screwed in without touching.  A 1/32" clearance here would be a minimum.  Install the upper and lower pads.  Now with washers, tighten the two retaining bolts where the oil tank flange marries snugly to the bottom rubber pad, and the rubber pad marries snugly to the gas tank flange, and the top rubber marries snugly to the gas tank mounting flange, and the two washers are snug against the upper rubber mount.  Turn the bolts two additional turns.  This will provide the proper crush, and elasticity will still remain.  Of course when the tank is painted (which I'll cover in segment (2) of gas tank restoration) and installed, the two retaining bolts will be safety wired in an X pattern. 

The last thing is to size the aluminum spacer at the rear bottom of the tank to length.  Too short a spacer will cause stress on the tank when tightened, and eventually will cause weld cracking.  If everything is done properly, you'll be able to firmly grab the tank on both sides, and when twisted, will feel a movement.  This movement provides enough elasticity in your rubber mounted tank to prevent harmonic vibration cracks to your newly restored tank.  Max Lambky  8/11/2010

Vincent Restoration: The wires going to the tail light carry little current so need not be large in diameter.  I have found that using Litz wire made running the wire through the lift handle much easier.  Litz wire is a specialty wire that is readily available.  It is made from many more strands of smaller wire.  Aside from it high frequency characteristics which are unimportant here, it makes the wire more flexible. Using the safety wire as Max described to "lasso" the Litz wire made the job a snap. Doug Wood  12/15/09

UK Registration Research:     david jones  12/3/09

Racing Exhaust Theory:  Exhaust pipe diameter and length were arrived at first by calculation and then fine tune on the dyno. Sort of what happens is length determines where the torque peak(s) occur.  Dia. determines whether the HP rises or falls above the torque peak and affects the max HP. However, each affects the other. Too small dia. creates frictional losses. Pipe needs to be big enough to support max air flow.  Intake length affects rpm where HP peaks.  Ultimately we are trying to achieve sympathetic resonance between intake and exhaust at the rpm we are tuning for. These waves come and go
with different frequency and amplitude along the rev range. The trick is to capture the energy and find the sweet spot. We are tuning for very high rpm HP so pipe is short.    To be fair we have not yet tested 2x pipe length and we did see HP gain by shortening the intake. Lots more to learn!     Fortunately I have some very experienced mentors who have patiently guided me and nurtured the project. I have them to thank for helping me get such good results in a very short time.     I have recently met a long time NASCAR tuner who is now building ProStock engines. He has suggested some areas to look at more closely. A "Cup" engine makes about 2.4hp/ They are limited to 12:1 cr but rev over 9000. The Vincent makes 2.2hp/ so we have some work to do.  This year will see lighter rods, pistons, lighter ring pressure, higher cr, more duration ex. for sure maybe intake, high vacuum crankcase, external oil pump... should be safe to 8500. Still stock bore and stroke but not for long.   Regarding boots. The pipes are arranged so the exhaust is directed either side of my foot. Sort of.  Steve Hamel  12/3/09
Rear Chain Links:  106 is for the std 46T rear sprocket.  48 rear will require a 108 link chain on a Twin - same as a standard Comet.  Peter Barker  11/30/09
chrome is what has already been described by Sid ands Max. Dull  chrome is the same process but without the polished base and is purely protective.  Satin chrome is the same process as polished chrome except that the base is prepared with a fine wire brush. Bright chrome is a cheap one step process without any preparation and you get what you pay for. It's commonly used on pressure die castings like automotive door handles etc. Cheap satin chrome can also be an inferior one step process. Hard chrome is a different animal and is used for abrasion resistance, and commonly used on bearing surfaces. It's also used to build up worn shafts since it can be applied as a very thick coating, however, used in that way it has to be ground to size since the thicker the coat the more granular it becomes and it tends to build up more on corners and edges. Roy Cross  11/26/09
Chrome plating is an art, especially when you get into metals such as pot metal.  In a proper chrome shop there are actually four tanks, cyanide copper, which is needed for pot metal plating, the copper tank, the nickel tank, which is by far the most expensive, and is the hardest to maintain, and then there's the chrome tank.  I forgot, there's also a tank to strip chrome, which is basically a reversed polarity system, and then there are the wash tanks.  First and foremost--when parts go from tank to tank, you must wash thoroughly with distilled water.  This prevents what is referred to as "dragging" i.e., copper polluting the nickel tank.  When triple plating, Sid's right in regard to coppering out pits.  This is controlled by the length of time the part is left in the copper tank, and the levelers used in the copper tank.  After copper plating, the piece can be taken back to the buff room, and the finish further enhanced to perfection.  Usually the part has to be electrically cleaned after polishing to get rid of the polishing rouge.  The part is then washed thoroughly in distilled water, and sometimes given a quick flash back in the copper tank, again washed, and into the nickel tank.  After nickel plating it goes straight to the chrome tank.   But Sid's incorrect in this. The nickel plate is Never polished.  It's too hard and thin.  The part, when hung in the chrome tank, takes only a few seconds to plate, less than a minute.  It isn't necessary to triple plate when the condition of the metal surface is adequate to nickel plate.  This process is referred to as "nickel chrome".  Max Lambkey  11/26/09
Source of BA, BSF Thread info:    11/13/09

Early 1960's Craven Lugage Rack Brochure:

Ceramic coating:  Good for the inside of your exhaust pipes. It dissipates heat, and helps the pipes flow better. Probably keeps the head cooler also. I have all my new pipes done at a shop in Hopewell, Va.  . The name of the shop is  They have a nice web site, and do great work. they also do other high tech coatings for the other inner parts of your engine. Their glossbBlack ceramic coating is also good for Shadow brake drums.  (Also referred to as Jet Hot Coating).  Cary Lindsey  10/12/09
The first task for a violin maker apprentice is to learn to sharpen, and of course flatten steel blades such as knives, chisels, etc.  The diamond stones  (here in the USA made by DMT) are extremely popular. You can buy various widths and lengths of course. You utilize a slurry of water to aid in cutting.  I find they work great for making sure all your
banjo fittings are dead flat and along the route you'll find lots of other uses for them.   Final sharpening and flattening can be achieved through a series of waterstones, the best being Japanese and going up to 8,000 grit.    Carl Hungness  9/19/09
replacement twin countershaft sprockets often need smoothing and polishing on the projecting side that rotates in the seal to prevent rapid ruin of the seal  lip, and leakage there from.  The originals were machined slick on this protruding surface.  Grease this area before sliding  home.   When  refitting the transmission access door be sure to do a good cleaning of all surfaces and reseal with a good  RTV type sealant  including  the bolts.  Be sure the door goes  fully home into its  recess.   If  poorly done you will suffer from seepage of  the gear box  lubricant  into the primary chain case.   Sid  6/26/09
As best I know, the works issued these
spares lists:
1. Series B only
2. Series B & C (early version, spares listed by group)
3. 1952 supplement (additions and corrections)
4. 1954 supplement (additions and corrections)
5. Series B & C (late version, spares listed by part number)
6. Series D only
The supplements are interesting because they have a 'Remarks' column with additional information on many items.  This content wasn't incorporated into the later Series B & C version.  David  6/18/09
Alloys:  Front Forks - L40 is (was, now obsolete) the Aircraft spec.  RR56 is the company HDA`s hiduminium version of the same spec, but without the aircraft paperwork. Mudguards -.  Current spec  5251.  These are all the same materials available at the time your mudguards were made in Birmabright BB2.  Alcan GB M57S.  Alcoa 510.  AWCO 21.   BA 21.   Durcilium V.   Hiduminium 22.  Peraluman 200.  Each a different foundrys version of the same spec.   Trevor  6/6/09
Tachometer for Vincents: In UK, Dawson and Harmsworth make the "Skitsu" tacho (about GBP100), and can configure it to work from magneto or coil.  Installation, apart from mounting it, consists of clipping the pick-up lead alongside the HT cable for about 6".  They have to know if you have a wasted spark system because it counts sparks. I've had three. They work well.  VDO make one that I think probably works on the same inductive principle.  Sunbeam  6/1/09
All the post-war
torque-arms are the same length at 13 inch centres between the 2 mounting holes.  However, Series A Torque Arms are 1.5 inches shorter at 11.5 inches.  Also the Series A one has a 3/16 BSW thread for the spring mounting screw, not the 2BA of the post-war variants.  Thickness has varied over the years - but 5/32 ins (about 8swg) seems about the best compromise to enable the sliding clip to fit over a layer of paint.  If you go thinner than that, avoid rear-braking while going backwards down a steep slope - your torque-arm could go banana-shaped - don't ask me how I know.  Peter Barker  5/17/09
Oil Filters:  As I recall, some years ago the club spares scheme went to a filter manufacturer to see about getting a modern filter made for the Vincent. The engineers there had a good laugh at what we were using and assured the club that they could o f course come up with something much better. A while later, they came back and said that after going into it more deeply they'd concluded that the old felt was pretty good for the application, and they didn't think they could improve much on it.  So I wonder about this new filter - did someone really do the engineering to figure out what would work best, or was it a case of just assuming that "everybody knows a paper filter would be better" and then making one. There are some interesting issues involved, that are not immediately
apparent. Paper filters work like sieves - great for partially cleaning large amounts of oil necessary in a plain bearing engine. A felt filter is what they call a "depth" filter - it filters more by entrapping particles than by screening them out and can filter out much smaller particles than a paper filter can. Roller bearing engines use so little flow compared to plain bearings that the apparent restrictiveness of the felt filter does not matter nearly as much as one might think. All of which doesn't necessarily mean the new one isn't any good, but just that the issue is not as simple as it might seem. Which often turns out to be the case, when we try "obvious" improvments on our old beasts - like oil.    Doug Wood  4/30/09
Sid's Starting Technique:  #1.  How  much flooding is necessary.   Only  enough to acheve this clearly heard effect, of the fuel slurping through the idle system.   Not dripping out on the motor.   # 2.  Where to position the flywheels for best near effortless starting.  This is easily learned - rotate until compression is felt - lift the decompression lever to release pressure- and further rotate about 2 inches or so,  release de-compression lever and slowly rotate listening as the other cylinder sucks in through its carburetor on its intake stroke.   Practice that a bit. Ticklng only enough to make this clearly audible.  Repeat on the Next go round -  now both  cylinders have fuel vapor available in their intake ports and chambers,  and will fire if all else is normal and well adjusted  when next booted over.  The trick is to  have coming  up that compression event just preceeding the Looong  flywheel spin ....or rock.  When compression is felt on that one -  it being the Shorter rock  -   the release is lifted and the wheels are rotated just enough {about 2 inches} at which point the motor will be easily spun - even by hand - whereupon the stored  momentum will boot it over the Next Up compression event just following just after that longer rock.  That momentum energy is what does the work .    Sid Biberman  4/22/09
What is
Cerrobend:   It's a bismuth alloy, melts in hot water, and expands as it cools. Note that.  We used to use it to hold odd-shaped castings for machining to get a reference face.
Put casting (say a cylinder head) in to a tray, barrel flange up. Level castings off more or less. Pour cerrobend (kept molten in bath of boiling water) in to tray. Let it cool. Heads are now firmly held by cerrobend, Skim upper surface of castings on milling machine. Bingo: there is now a flat reference face. Put tray in hot water. Cerrobend melts. Pour back into bath for future use. Take individual heads out, put on fixture using newly created reference face, machine.  Or pour Cerrobend into tube to be bent, cerrobend expands, "tube" is now "bar". Bend with no fear of empty tube collapsing, melt cerrobend out.  Sunbeam  4/15/09
Originality:  The Gunga Din discussion of what is original is a piece of nonsense, really.  Any race bike is a work in progress from its first outing.  My Petty Norton has had 4, 5, and 6 speed gearboxes, the same (Peel Mountain Mile) fairing but in three different colours (no significance), with two different screens (big significance), two different cranks (standard and lightened), two different pistons (Norton Replica 11:1 and Omega 13.8:1), two different heads (Norton original and Summerfield), three different carburettors (Amal smoothbore, Mikuni, and Gardner), two different ignition systems (2MTT magneto and PVL electronic) and two different cams. That (ignoring the fairing colour) is 576 variants. You choose.  Sorry, forgot front brake, Lockheed disc, Kawasaki H1R 4-shoe, Menani 4-shoe.  That's 1728 variations, all of which are "original". Unless you count the change of barrel, and exhaust system, in which case it's 6912. And plain engine plates and drilled engine plates which I forgot.   So that's 13,824 potential "original versions" of my Petty Norton, the same one I've raced since 1993. Never more than one of them at a time, though.  Sunbeam  4/8/09

Fender Rivots: A rivet "set" and a hammer will do, but there are two problems. One is that you need a set that fits the rivet head. The other is that it's always a bugger trying to hold the assembly directly above the set. A highly trained octupus helps.  If the heads of the rivets won't show, or will be painted, or if you don't care, buy hex setscrews, put a saw-cut across the end of each screw, and turn or grind the hex head to the desired dome shape. Insert screw, add appropriate washers and a nut, insert screwdriver into saw-cut, tighten nut. My Rudge mudguards were done that way, then powder coated. Unless you looked underneath, you'd never know. Except perhaps that none of the "rivet" heads is gouged where it slipped out of the rivet-set.   Tom  3/11/09

The Chico Roll poster you refer to was version one which was made available to us fortunate to be around then for 50 cents a poster.I purchased at least 4 and gave 3 away, kept one.The second version came out many years later and is more common of course , but less glamorous-you'd agree.  The pouty girl you refer to was none other than Mrs. Sandy Will a very pretty gal - wife of Colin Will, who now owns the very successful ex Kieth Corrish Norvin(previously raced successfully by Eric Debenham),  as seen on The Vincent .com not long ago. It has won  many Classic events of late.He is a truly dedicated Vincent nutter and his wife was also very supportive of the cause.This was all in around 1976-78.The posters are still fairly common, and can bring outrageous amounts at auctions, not that I think they are worth it.I guess that after having paid 50 cents for each copy back then-I have become realistic. I have one and thats all one person needs
 Franc Trento  12/18/08

Birmabrite Fenders:  NS4 Aluminum  12/17/08

Rear Sprockets:  Whenever I am asked about the double sprocket I always reply that I make the Vincent earn it's keep by powering a chain-driven sawmill  during the long winter months in Northern Alberta.    Richard Vanderwell  8/8/08
Rear Stand:  Flat springs beneath the heads on both  sides.  Snug down until the drag  just holds the stand  from dropping of  its weight.  Stays where placed.   Hold  head and snug up nut so the bolt stays as set.   Now you can roll around the bike w/o the stand falling and dragging.  This is how it was meant to be done.     Sid  8/7/08
Excellent basic info on
British Threads: Doug Wood  7/19/08
Footpeg Rubbers: Use only Silicone Oil to lubricate rubber. One kind is the Vinyl Protectant you get at Auto Stores or Walmart which is crystal clear. One kind is named Clear Guard. It will eventually be absorbed into the rubber and will make it last longer, don’t use too much. Petroleum products ruin rubber. Throw away all cans of WD-40 except for use in the garden house for rustproofing your shovels and machettes and such. It is good to rustproof your vise too but not to lubricate the vise screw.  Juel Edwards  7/23/08
Mufflers:  Most  mufflers gradually become quieter with long mileage and this next trick is one I learned  from the  maker of  BUB mufflers,  Dennis Manning.  Told to me decades ago Manning swears it is true. With a  fresh muffler - not yet coated internally  by oil and carbon one simply dribbles through it from end to end  - both directions- a can of Classic Coke, not thediet stuff.  Rotate the muffler slowly to ensure you coat  effectively,  allowing the liquid to enter internal perforations    along the baffels inner surface.   Let sit awhile,  shake out and drain off the excess.    Re-install .   Start and bring up to heat with motor idling rather than blasting  away.    My guess is the coke syrup leaves a coating similar to that which forms over extended mileage of road use.  I  never  tried it but plan to do so, and  when I last spoke to  Manning at Bonniville I asked him if he still sticks to this method --he firmly said he did.   The story of his learning it goes like this.   Long years ago when he first started making after market  mufflers he was entering bikes in a big show where they could be started  up --  and  they sounded  cheap, raucous and  unpleasant.   An old  guy there offered up this strange  trick and swore it was true so Dennis,  being desperate,  tried it.    And it worked.   Manning told me the tale way back in 78/80  when I sent  him an original Vincent  muffler  for  possible  reproduction  sales.   Sid  Biberman  7/18/08
Does anyone know when the VOC started selling the
cast aluminum machine badges ?  I have four of them, representing three different types.  The first cast one is very thick (.181"), the second type of cast badge is thinner (.117"), and the thinnest one (.114") is engraved rather than cast.  I have also seen a plastic and chrome one that I assume was the last produced.  I bought two thinner (.117") ones from the VOC in the early 80s.  Any additional info ??  David Stein  6/11/08 
Soldering Cables: I made a small solder pot thusly:  I went to the hardware store and bought a galvanized cast iron end cap in the plumbing section of the store.  It's probably for 3/8 or 1/2 inch pipe.  Into the side of it I drilled and tapped a hole for a bolt that I had on hand.  Size doesn't matter.  For the bolt, that is.
Thread a jam nut onto the bolt and screw the bolt into the end cap.  Stop when the bolt is just into the end cap and two sides of the hex head a vertical when the end cap is sitting on it end (flat surface).  Hold the bolt head in a bench vise and heat the pot with a propane torch. Melt in your favorite solder alloy.  Avoid acid core.  Try not to over heat the solder.  Dip your prepared cable end in the molten solder, hesitate to let it come up to temperature then remove and allow to cool with a minimum of movement.  File off any excess solder that that may have accumulated or cable wires that are standing out a bit and you're ready to go.  Doug Wood  1/2/08
Soldering Cables:  I found that a good hardware store carries cast iron ladles made specifically for handling molten metal.  If you can buy a small one,  as I did, it saves the extra work of making one.  From there on, I do the same as Doug.  I clamp the ladle in a vise and aim a propane torch at it to heat it.  I use silver solder.  Dip the cable end in the flux that came with the solder, then into the ladle, hesitating briefly, then clean up any drips, etc. with a small file.  Jay  1/2/08

Cables:   If you order from the Flanders Co,   you'll see on the catalogue page a number  of cable offerings of six different diameters to suit different  applications. You'll see an offering described as '1 X19', which is the more  rigid 19 strand old style BI cable which I've found to break easily and
 often at the throttle drum or clutch lever end. You'll also see the more  flexible (and more expensive) '7 X 7' offering which appears to be wound  from 7 cables, each wound from 7 finer strands which has been used for years  on Japanese cables and which I've not yet been able to break since I began  its use.  Doug Wood  1/2/08
Rocker feedbolt washers and gas tap washers:  My favorite fix for the ET189 washer/seal is a product called a Stat-O-Seal  made by a company called XRP. It's like a Dowty seal but has a more substantial round cross section rubber piece molded into the ID of a thin aluminum washer. The size goes by ID and a 9/16" one will fit in place of the ET189, however the OD is too big and has to be turned down to fit in some spotfaced surfaces. These Stato-O-Seals are often sold as petcock washers for 1/4 BSP threads and are 1/2" for that application. I use them in place of A27 banjo washers. The same company supplies a very thin 1/2"  washer to be used under the hex heads of bolts and nuts to protect the rubber portion of the seal. I get mine from Coventry Spares. I use the 1/4"  size ones as a replacement for the ET188 banjo bolt seal and use the ET188 copper washer or an AN SS washer under the head of the bolt to protect the rubber. A general source for these seals is the Earls brand sold at speed shops and some auto parts stores in the US but I have a local truck hydraulic parts (lines, fittings, etc.) shop that is more reasonably priced than the Earls brand. They have worked very well for me and are reusable several times over.  Dave Malloy  12/24/07
Oil Pressure Gauge: The best place would be in your jacket pocket. Because of the roller  bearing big end construction in a Vincent the oil pressure is so low
that  unless you use a guage that reads in parts of a couple of pounds per square inch, it will be of no use at all.  Phelps  12/13/07
Oil Pressure Gauge: Maybe at one of the passages blanked off with a grubscrew in the timing cover?  In 40 Years On, p. 120, there is a pretty good system diagram that might be useful.  It would seem, though, that the pressure is so low that the best observation is the spurts of oil being returned to the oil tank.  It might pay to unscrew the screw in the end of the quill to see if oil spurts there, too.  Not to mention taking out the quill to see it isn't broken off and isn't so worn that it doesn't feed the crank well.  Bruce Metcalf  12/13/07
Modern Oils: The old myth of skidding roller bearings has been around for years and was also supposed to occur in Harleys. It is truly a rumor and not based on any fact. If the oil was so slippery that the rollers skidded rather than rolled, they wouldn’t wear either. The only possible relation occurred in some bearings that used a plastic  “seal” that was not oil resistant (to either petroleum or synthetic oil). The plastic swelled up, causing the rollers to stick in place.   AMSOIL Synthetic Motorcycle Oil is formulated for use in these engines, without the use of friction modifiers that can be troublesome in these engines and/or transmissions.  Byron Selbrede 11/28/07
Heavy Thoughts...or How to move heavy shop equipment:    I just purchased and moved a Bridgeport J head milling machine into my shop. For others attempting to defy the laws of physics and common sense, I offer the following pointers:  (something about this article intrigues me... style of writing,  uncommonly good sense, his approach to a problem... )

Start by centering the table and locking it. Put the knee all the way down and lock it. Move the saddle all the way in and lock it. This is to get the center of gravity as low and central as possible.

The best basic moving tool is a 5' crowbar. You can generally get the machine up off the floor a bit and put some form of roller under it using a crowbar. I use 4 old Jaguar head studs (7/16") as rollers. ½" pipe works well too.

If you can find a toe jack, use it to get the machine onto a couple of 4X4 blocks about 12-15" long.

Then, you can pick the machine up using a pallet jack. I have found this to be the safest and easiest way to move it a short distance.

For loading it onto a trailer or truck, you have a couple of options. The easiest is to find someone with a backhoe or bucket loader to lift it. Use straps if you have them, and have the operator lift the machine with the front bucket, not the backhoe. I recommend having them go a vertical lift only, then back your truck or trailer under the machine and set it down gently. I move machines standing up. Some would argue that they should be laid down, but I believe this can cause extreme and unnatural loads on the feed nuts etc.

If you cannot find a suitable backhoe/ forklift/ tractor/ etc. (99% of humanity lives less than 2 miles from a backhoe. OK I'm making that up, but it probably isn't far from the truth), it is possible to load it with an engine crane or a chainfall. I do not have a chainfall, but I have seen one used (make SURE the beam or gantry will support the weight of the machine!) When using an engine crane, generally the boom needs to be in the shortest position and the ram needs to be in the outer position. I recommend removing the head/ ram assembly to reduce the height of the pedestal. Use as little chain as possible, but enough that it keeps the pedestal from contacting the boom when you reach max height. I recommend against using hooks; use threaded locking D-links instead, and tighten them with a wrench, not just your fingers. (I once dropped a mill about 6" because a D-link wasn't tight, and it stripped and opened like it was a piece of wire. It was OK, but smashed the crap out of the casters on my crane.) I still recommend the backhoe!

Once loaded, make sure that you tie it down using 2" wide ratcheting tie-downs, like truckers use. When I use a trailer with a wooden bed, I nail 2x4s down around the base of the machine to help keep it from sliding around. Tie it down like you are planning to have an accident. Lots of people have been killed by heavy loads that shifted forward in a wreck.

A few other basic pointers:

Recognize your limits. Don't try to do something that you don't have the proper equipment for. The equipment is available everywhere; it is just a question of getting you hands on it. It may cost money, but less money than replacing your pedestal if you crack it. (or your leg if you crack it!)

Don't rush. I tend to do my moves while the kids are at school or in bed. Plan on moving things slowly and deliberately. Don't put anything heavy down on any body parts you value.

Don't try to man-handle anything. You will lose. The only way to move machinery is with lots of leverage and mechanical advantage. Be smarter than the machine, not stronger.

Tom      11/28/07

You do not have to remove the pipes or anything other than the inspection cap to replace the kick-start spring (G87/1).  It can be inveigled out with a pair of vice-grips, and to re-install put some safety wire around the new one at the top and pull it into place. You can fish the old one out of the cover with a wire. Jacqueline Bickerstaff performed this little operation for me in her driveway.  However, if you are bent on taking the cover off, I would most assuredly replace the G 48 spring. In fact, I would personally put in two G 48 springs intertwined.  If and when the G 48 does not engage the ratched fully, you risk the possibility of a fractured knee if it lets go "on the swing". When I first joined the club I read in the MPH of such a circumstance, and then experienced it. I didn't break a bone, but could have with all the force one uses to kick the Beast.  Carl  4/27/07

Rear Chain Adjustment: The rear chain is at its tightest when there is a straight line between the drive sprocket center, the RFM pivot and the driven (rear) sprocket center. Raising or lowering the RFM above or below this line will only loosen ithe chain.  Mike Hebb  4/18/07

Chrome/Nickle: The Vincents in 1952 were afflicted by shortages of materials due to the Korean War and both Nickel and chrome were in short supply.  However,  I think the shortage of chrome was rather more acute than the nickel.   A  couple of years ago I helped a friend rebuild a a very standard 52 Shadow, which incidentally had the metric wheel bearings helld in with screwed retainer rings.   The kickstart lever had deteriorated while the bike was in storage and I took it to my friendly plater to have it stripped,   polished and rechromed.   He later excitedly phoned me to say the original finish had
not been chrome at all,   but in fact it had been triple nickel plated.  This involves plating and polishing between the first layers before finally putting on the shiny nickel finishing layer.   This was apparently a standard finish on old car parts.   My friend who was trying to rebuild the bike as standard asked if my plater could do likewise.   The finished result  was magnificent with a deep lusterous finish,   which although different from chrome was equally pleasing.   Bickerstaff's book "Original Vincent" makes no mention of this,   so it is probably a little known detail of Vincent history.  I wonder how many builders of rebuilt bikes have paid such attention to detail.       Derek  Peters.  4/2/07

Coventry Spares has reproductions of this muffler that look just as nice, and seem to offer good quality and craftsmanship.  Ask for the one with the 1 &  3/4  inch inlet , just a thin shim will be needed.   A strip off a beer can.   I have one stashed away but never fitted it yet.  A trick told me by Denis Manning of BUB Pipes  {The liner  guy} An old pal of many years.  With a fresh muffler not yet seasoned by running that has a too loud unpleasant sound one can sweeten its note by  slowly pouring a can of original Coke down it's center passage while slowly turning it round.  I ain't kiddin !    He swears  it's true.   Seems the syrup coats the internals and  leaves a  film that alters the damping characteristics and resonance.   The tone is altered to a deeper sweeter note.    Long years of  running  leaves a carbon / oil deposit that does much the same.  Denis swears that he learned it long ago at a Bike Show where he was demonstrating his early mufflers,  but they  sounded unpleasant and cheap and he was discouraged.  Some biker guy gave him the Coke tip and it  made a big differance.   Sid 2/16/07
Starting Technique:    Imagine a circle drawn in front of you ,  then two small circles disposed  in that circular line,  one  followed  by a longer arc and then the other a short section - as if each represented one of our two cylinders,  as if a 50 degree twin .   Each of the small circles represents a compression event  in the rotation  of the flywheels .  Each followed then by a power stroke and then an intake portion --  this leading into the following compression event.  Clearly there is a longer free spin  following one than the short  distance following  the other.  The  trick is to identify  from start lever travel  and the sucking sound out the carb chokes whats going on in the cylinders, and  this allows you to tell one from the other, and which comp. event will be followed by the longer free turning span.  Practice with the fuel off  so as not to flood the cylinders.   Later with the fuel on and  the  floats tickledyou will be  able to clearly hear the sound of the liquid being sucked through the idle passages as the motor is rolled over - with the throttle shut or nearly so.   Now  spin her over  slowly and when you feel compression lift the decompressor  for a brief moment allowing some air to escape so she goes past that comp. event  and approaches the next one . A few reps.  will  give you  signs of which one is preceeding that event that leads to the longer free spin  distance.   The aim is to approach the  comp. event that just followed the shorter spin,  ease into it an inch or two with the decomp. lever lifted so the resistance is  largely passed.   Release the lever. Allow the kickstart pedal to return to the top of it's travel .  Ahead of you is the full longer spin distance when momentum can be built up in the flywheel mass  -  and  that  inertia will easily  bump it over the next upcoming  compression -  whereupon she will fire if  the carb has been tickeled and fuel  vapors are available  in the  inlet manifold.   Now, a firm swing  with good follow through  but with out use of the compression release will  produce an easy start .  As it will on a Velo or a Matchless / AJS  or any other big single. No need to  hurl into it a huge effort or stomp  it .  Just a firm swing with intent carried through like a golf swing .  And she go boom.   Thats all there is to it . Sid. Biberman  1/14/07
Soldering Cables: I made a small solder pot thusly:   I went to the hardware store and bought a galvanized cast iron end cap in the plumbing section of the store.  It's probably for 3/8 or 1/2 inch pipe. Into the side of it I drilled and tapped a hole for a bolt that I had on hand.  Size doesn't matter.  For the bolt, that is.  Thread a jam nut onto the bolt and screw the bolt into the end cap.  Stop when the bolt is just into the end cap and two sides of the hex head a vertical when the end cap is sitting on it end (flat surface). Hold the bolt head in a bench vise and heat the pot with a propane torch. Melt in your favorite solder alloy.  Avoid acid core.  Try not to over heat the solder.  Dip your prepared  cable end in the molten solder, hesitate to let it come up to temperature then remove and allow to cool with a minimum of movement.  File off any excess solder that that may have accumulated or cable wires that are standing out a bit and you're ready to go.  Doug Wood  2/11/07

Control Cables:
Flanders and Barnett
I make my own cables and use a 430 degree silver solder called MG -120, soldering iron use, great capaliary action, great bonding adhesion, 15,000 psi tensile strength. The old name was Allstate 430 product and Eutectic/MG bought out Allstate.
MG 120 -   Messer MG Welding Products,  (262) 255-5520 or fax (262) 555-5542
Check w/ your local welding supply house. after i get home I'll look at the package and give you more info.  Jim Wilson  2/13/06
I use bar end
mirrors made by Auto-plas, but fit them without the horizontal extension and you learn to ride with your elbows in. They are black plastic and relatively inexpensive and if they receive a blow they don't stress anything else, The pillar they they are mounted on is only about three inches high so they are very neat and compact.  Roy Cross 1/18/06
With bar-end type
mirrors check if the glass is flat or convex, the difference in viewing area is startling. I use bar end mirrors made by Halcyon in the pattern of the old Stadium brand, expensive but made from cast brass and stainless with good convex mirror, and universal left or right fitting.  Ian S  1/18/06
The Vincent Spares Co.
spiral baffle silencer came out 'best of test' in MPH when compared with the other commercially available silencer that tries to get close; they were judged both on the brake and subjectively. The initial calculations done based on the original factory design revealed it to be less than perfect. When we cranked in the measured data taken from the factory's second version we got a little closer, using extra data found in technical journals, including the original patent application let us feel we were on the right track.  Silencing knowledge has moved on since those days however, and using experience from sizing silencers for oil- and gas-field applications as part of my career, the VOC Tech Committee was confident that the design was sound. High gas flow and mega dB from a silencer doesn't necessarily mean high power, it's not called 'tuning' for nothing.  Ian Savage found his Spares Co. silencer to be a revelation on his Twin, as he said on Jtan. Personally, I find the Spares Co. silencer to be wonderful on a Twin, but a crisp Single late in the evening in a built-up area can bark a bit.  Frank.  11/23/05
I had as many problems as any newcomer in
starting my Vincent so can offer the following advice gleaned from the oldtimers and lots of books.
Locating the long-stroke, short stroke seems frustrating to many, but given the design of the magneto we do know the engine fires only on the rear cylinder at kicking RPM.
Thus it is best to kick the machine just after the short stroke, which means just after the front cylinder has gone over TDC.
You can easily HEAR the front cylinder sucking as you ease the engine over with the compression release. As soon as you hear it sucking, you know you are approaching compression on the front cylinder. Thus, feel the compression on the front cylinder, ease it over TDC, and the bike is now ready to kick.You have just passed the short stroke.
If you have just passed TDC on the front as explained, you can pull in the compression release once again, kick and release the lever.
The reality of the situation is that you do not have to use the compression release and still have no fear of stripping the kick-start quadrant as the bike will act just like a 500 single. I started my bike this way for 14 years.
However since I am now deaf in my left ear I can't hear the front cylinder, but I have gained a feel for the short stroke.
So, to start the bike:
  1. Tickle the carbs till they spit
   2. Kick it through twice using the compression release
   3. Then if you want, find TDC on the front, ease it over, and kick it with the compression release as described.
   4. However, and Jack Cape proved the following to me: You can simply find ANY compression stroke, ease it over, then kick it with the compression release and she will start.
    5. It is much easier to start the machine on the back stand, but the Hill stand is highly recommended.
     6. You can also extend the right hand prop stand while kicking the bike upright, just in case you drop it.
     7. I have found that the BT-H magneto allows for much easier starting and the machine definitely idles better than with a mag. Besides, it is cheap, new and hidden under the cowl. Jess Stockwell introduced me to the BT-H and I know he simply walks up to the bike, kicks it wherever the pistons lie, and she starts.  An additional advantage of the BT-H is you no longer have to fiddle with the ATD device and the unit is dead easy to time. If I had just spent $50,000 for a Vincent I'd add a few  bucks to it and buy a Hills stand and the BT-H along with a better generating system.  Carl Hungness 9/7/05

This omission from the B/C Spare Parts Lists is one of many inaccuracies. Some other examples, off the top of my head, are:
1.   M002 - Don't assemble the clutch link pins C10 to the holes in C13 that appear to be correct in this diagram.  It can be done, but the result is a
badly slipping clutch.  Use the diagram in the Rider's Handbook.
2.   M010 - G83AS should be shown as made up of G82 (quadrant) and FT41/3 (or G88) (spring anchor).
3.   M013 - On the breather spindle, thrust washer ET98/1 is missing from between the pinion and the tab-washer ET220.  Also E95 thrust washer is not
4.   M021 - E121 should be deleted and labelled as '39' 5/16 Whit countersunk screws (2 off).
5.   M022 - On LHS RFM fork, bolt 480 should read 840.  Also there should only be one double coil spring washer per side on the stand pivot bolts.
And I believe it should be between the stand and the bolt F69.
6.   M025 - should ideally show the PR32 mounting bolts 502 (1/4BSF x 1/2 Round Head Screws - 2 off).  Also the 5/32" split-pin which locates the gear
pinion (nylon for quiet running) on PR32.
7.   M036 - The long bolt adjacent the rear footrest plate is missing its Part No. (669).
8.   M037 - A 1/4 BSF plain nut is missing from the LH end of FT155 rear hinge stud (outboard of FT154).
9.   M064 - At the top of the Comet triangular casting F106, the 2 washers 981 are not shown - neither is the thin nut to the left F27.
10.   M063 - Worst of all, FF8 and FF9 are shown in the wrong places; they should be reversed.
From a  Peter Barker e-mail on 10 Nov 1999  (posted 3/26/05) 

Additional B/C Spare Parts Lists inaccuracies: M019  FT80 is backwards, M064 E228 and ET141 are mislabeled.  Mike Hebb 3/27/05

B/C Spare Parts Lists inaccuracies:

MO 09
1 screw Item 328 not shown

MO 19
FT 80 is not only drawn backwards, it should be mounted inside the fuel
tank lug

MO 22
Item 502 Round head 1/4" BSF screw should be used to blank off the
unused chain guard mounting hole
Two G90 bushes needed in FT111

MO 64
The large idler should read ET 50, not E 50
Item 30, a grub screw, is drawn but not labeled (it's just above 'E2/4')
6 screws, Item 220 are needed for the clutch cover E 62
Gear change rubber is G80, same as the Twin's
Bolt, Item 978 should read 872
No Gasket shown for ATD cover ET136/1, nor on MO32 to which MO64 refers.
F111 The upper two threaded holes are not drawn, later F111s only had
the two upper holes.
E228 is the dynamo drive pinion and
ET141/5 is the breather pinion, not as shown

Frank,The Hague, Holland  11/26/2009

Exhaust Pipe Flange: The brazed steel ring is the way to go. You will never get an airtight joint and secure nut with the homemade lip. Best of it all is the possibility to correct any misalignment . I spotweld the ring on one or two points only - fit the system to bike and make sure I don´t ruin the self-found position of ring while dismantling. Then it gets brazed with 650 degr brazerod - no colouring of pipe outside the nut visible. Hartmut  3/23/05
UFM and Oil Fittings: T32 sits in the top of fitting T31 and serves as a checkvalve to keep the oil from running out of the UFM when you remove the feed hose assembly.  The little pipe in the top of the feed hose pushes T32 up so that oil can flow down the hose.  This was provided for convenience so that the UFM could be detached from the engine complete with oil and wheeled away, during maintenance.  The system will 'work' with T32 omitted, but the oil in the UFM will then run out when you remove the oil feed hose.  So it is best for T32 to be in place. The proper function of ALL of these parts must be verified if you are incorporating new aftermarket parts that may be made wrong.  Obviously the oiling system must all be in normal working order or the engine will be damaged.

Any Non-hardening sealer is okay for the threads on T30AS but it is important that the Steel washer 448 be used since there otherwise is a tendency for an annoying oil seep at this point, despite the sealer on the threads.  Just one of the many mysteries of life with Vincents.

It pays when servicing the UFM to get the oil tank as clean as possible because 'clay' tends to build up on the floor of it that conceivably could block the opening that admits the oil to the screen assy T30AS. The traditional treatment is filling the tank with a mixture of Gunk and Varsol and letting it sit overnight.  Then flushing out the solvent with boiling water, taking care to avoid the obvious dangers, and obeying all OSHA and EPA regulations!  In recent times people have taken to cutting 'manholes' in the top rear of their UFMs to enable more positive cleaning.  I understand the reason for this, but I hate the idea of altering original UFMs!  If it can be avoided, anyhow.

The hex on T29 is really too small to be very positive sealing against a fiber washer.  For decades people have just plugged the opening where it goes with a crankcase drainplug and fiber washer, because the chain oiler was never really satisfactory, just making a mess on the back of the bike.  90wt gear oil is much better on the back chain, applied once in a while with a utility brush.

T29 is NOT a tapered thread, no tapered threads exist on a Vincent.  It is 1/4 BSP. If you use T29, it can be installed with the same non-hardening sealer noted above. If something like Red Loctite is used with steel on steel, it grips so hard you may find it impossible to disassemble later without torture and heroic measures that may result in serious damage to the parts. I "suppose" Blue Loctite 242 would be okay for both of these applications, but regardless what is used, the threads must be clean and dry for the sealers to work. Operators try this kind of sealer and that, and find something they like, and have joints that leak, as time goes by; and it's all part of the experience.    Bill Hoddinott  10/25/04 

Oil Leaks: One time my mentor Roland Pike and I were discoursing, and I ventured to ask him this fundamental question: "Master, why do Britbike crankcases always leak oil sooner or later?"  His answer was, "My son, it is because the main joint is vertical, and other reasons.  There is always ponding oil above the joint between the halves, to start off with.  Next, all the sections of the aluminium castings are of variable thickness and depth.  All their fasteners are of variable length.  This means that every time the case goes through a heat cycle, all the parts of it expand and contract by different amounts in various areas, as do their fasteners.  Aluminium expands quite a lot under heat.  Its steel fasteners expand, but less, distorting the castings compared with their cold shape.  Hence with every one of the innumerable heat cycles of everyday use, all parts of the castings are squirming together, which upsets and degrades the bond of the sealer
placed between the case halves.  Add to this, that every time you let the clutch in, the primary chain yanks backwards hard on the drive side case half, and that the power pulses in the cylinders are constantly pushing up on the heads and down on the crankcase, and the general everpresent vibration.  When you visualize all these adverse forces at work, is it any wonder that sooner or later you have oil seepage at the main crankcase joint?"

I might add that Roland had in his precious private stash a can of Wellseal, brought over to America with him from England.  When he occasionally built an engine for himself, or family members, he used this sealer in preference to any other.
Bill Hoddinott  3/30/04

Birmabright Mudguards: This is not an equivalent spec. It is the spec. (# 5251)
1.  Hiduminium 22   From HDA Forgings Ltd.,
2. Durcilium - V        From E & E Kaye Ltd.,
3. Peraluman 200    From Star Aluminium Ltd,.,
4. BA 21           From British Aluminium Co. Ltd.  Trevor  2/6/04

Removing rust with Electrolysis     7/7/03

I had been planning for some time to modify my FT118 front propstand carrier as per an article in 40YO.  Not being encumbered with a life outside my workshop, I started the job Friday.  It took a good bit of time, as there is a lot of cutting
and welding to be done, and then very careful fitting to keep the stands from rubbing on the front engine plates and primary cover, etc., but in the end it is an effort well spent.  Now, instead of laying over at very disconcerting angles, the propstands keep the bike at about 10-15 degrees (I'm guessing here) off of vertical. Certainly not threatening to fall over on its own, and enough leaned over to deal with any stiff winds or accidental bumps.

I made the piece out of a 6 inch length of 1 3/8 tubing, which had an ID of 1".  The end pieces are out of 3/8 or so plate.  All TIG welded and then the tubing rebored (the small tubes which carry the stands have to break through the ID of the larger tube).  I went with 8 degrees instead of 10 and am very happy with that decision.

A couple of things which deserve attention when building:  Firstly, do not just copy the original castings' left hand end piece.  Rather, make the bit that the securing screw (for keeping the stand locked UP) a bit larger, then you can set the angle of the stands fore and aft and then use a transfer punch to mark your hole for drilling.  I found the original location a bit too far back (the stands aren't far enough forward to "feel" secure) and ended up welding the holes up and redrilling.  Also, plan a LOT of time for adding weld and grinding away in order to make the stands lie properly and open evenly.  Glenn Beweley  7/6/03

There are a great many types of  rear chain available.  Mine, sourced from Sprockets Unlimited in the UK is an 'IWIS' and has been nickasil coated before assembly.  This means that it is extremely hard wearing and will even manage without lubrication for a while without detriment.  I've done 850 miles on it and have yet to adjust it.  The imperial size you should ask for is 5/8 x 3/8 and you need 106 links for a Twin and 108 links for a Single.  My twin primary chain broke asunder and came out through a big hole in the chaincase/crankcase - seizing the back wheel at 80mph on the outside lane of the motorway.  The moral of that story is:  replace the primary chain - and check sprocket alignment very carefully.  Peter  6/16/03
Picador Drone: (ML Aviation U120D target aircraft into which the Picador engine was fitted)If the question is "why off the coast of Wales" as opposed to somewhere else, it's because the airfield used for testing and operating remote controlled drones is on the coast of Wales, so that the ironmongery falling to earth does so into the Irish Sea, not onto the heads of us innocent Brits. I believe it is still used for the same purpose. If the question is "why the sea is full of Picador engines", it's because the radio control systems of the 1950s were very rudimentary, the range was limited, the telemetry was non-existent, and the operators inexperienced. If the aircraft went out of sight, behind a cloud, or had any problem, they lost control and the aircraft came down. It did have a parachute, but as it was or should have been over the sea, the plane was still lost. Dick Sherwin  5/1/03
A little more research on the
Lifeboats. There were Mk 1   Mk 1a    Mk 11   and Mk111. The Vincent engine was only used in the Mk 111, and the boats, all 34 of them, were made at Saunders- Roe, I would imagine on the Isle of Wight. Mk1 and 1a  utilised a Seagull `Middy` engine Mk 11`s  an Austin 8hp  Marine engine. These boats were built by various firms , H. Woods, as I previously mentioned, Uffa Fox, Woodnutt, Ranalagh, Aldous, Brooke, Sycamore, Woodrow, and Vospers (1). So it would appear that only the Mk111`s were used with the Shackleton aircraft. Trevor  4/3/03
propstands clang against the front engine plates when flipped up.  To cushion that, I put a tie-wrap (black, of course) through one of the small holes on one side that is at the contact point.  On the other side, the tie wrap goes around the propstand shaft, since the hole isn't in the right spot. Bruce Metcalf  2/4/03

Corrosion of ferrous or aluminum based  materials can only occur in the presence of both air (oxygen) and water. It is by definition electrolytic in all cases. Chromate solution of course reacts with either the surface of ferrous or aluminum alloy to form a thin molecular barrier layer of ferric or aluminum chromate preventing any water or air reaching the metal. A good layer of dirt ridden oil around a Vincent engine will do the same....and cheaply. Paradoxically the more meticulous you are about keeping a bike pristinely polished and clean the more susceptible it is to corrosion. I sometimes wonder if that's why such a great percentage of Vincents are still in tact. Just because they are so susceptible to oil leaks! Tim Baldric  1/31/03
Bonneville Motorcycle Racing: Visualize being strapped down on your back inside the regulation roll cage, where you have little sense of the balance of the machine.  You get pushed off, the engine fires, and as the thing wobbles and tries to lie down, you keep correcting and accelerate, hoping for a speed where you will find some stability.  Somehow you get the thing up to 200, and continue up into the REAL mystery zone.  Every little puff of wind makes the liner drift sideways(and there is always some wind), and every time you steer right a little for correction, the machine tries to fall over to the left, and vice versa,  so your steering is a constant series of 'falls and saves'.  Over 200 or so, you run into speed ranges where you go into speed-wobbles of overpowering force, nobody knows why, regardless of your steering geometry and setup, regardless of your
damper arrangement, if the front can't wobble, the whole back of the machine will weave.  If these wobbles and weaves decide to get bad enough, the streamliner will fall down on its side and maybe go end over end. Which may have very serious consequences for the rider, even death! And inside, you go through these, and hope you can 'drive through them'. You go faster and faster, if you have the power to accelerate to 300 or more, the salt ripples hammer the whole structure, including you,  the mechanical thrash and vibration inside there is maddening, you have to hold your helmet away from the padded rollcage or your eyeballs will blur-out your vision.  As you reach peak speed, if you make it despite all these dangers, and the machine is still upright, you're speeding like a rocket over the Salt Flats through the timing lights, and you pop your chute and hopefully bring the vehicle to a safe stop, with a new record.  If so, you'll be a rider of the calibre of Don Vesco or Dave
Campos.  Much more likely, you'll be like the rest of us, who will never, never go there, because among other reasons, we'd never have the poise, skill, touch and sensitive feel to keep the liner upright with tiny inputs of steering at the 'falls and saves' stage, which apparently means, the entire run from start to finish.  Bill Hoddinott  1/13/03
Oil Leak Detection: Do yourself a  favor and get a black light and some leak detector dye to put in the oil. Your local auto parts store will have the dye. You probably have a black light stashed away from your younger years. To quote Big Sid: "There are a thousand joints and fittings sprinkled over the entire bike that love to leak if not chased down and delt with one at a time. "

The "down and back" theory is valid but insufficient. I got a couple cans of spray electronics cleaner, something like BrakeKleen will work too, to clean up everything after a ride and a session with the black light ready to go out for another ride.
Got it down to about 6 leaks now, 2 of which will require structural work or better sealant.  BMW had a service definition of leakage, seepage and weepage. Only leakage was covered under warranty. I still have 6 leaks.  J. Severs 1/9/03

When I was experimenting (in the late 1960s) with Vincent engines for racing chair use, I tried several exhaust pipe set ups.  Using Mk 2 cams and 1 3/8" GP Amals I found that 1 3/4" X 52" long pipes gave the best power figure of 63 bhp at 5200 rpm. I eventually got my best power output on 2" pipes 50" long which gave 65 bhp at 5800 but now fitted with 11/2" Amal GPs. Any of you who went to the 1966 Racing car show may have seen this engine installed in a JW4 single seater used for hill climbing.  I found GP carbs fitted with two matchbox float chambers to be easy to tune and giving as much torque as the next size down in a touring carb.  Peter Gerrish 1/2/02
Electron not listed in the Aluminium Federations handbook.  It might have been originally BS4L53  a 9.5-11.0  Mg casting alloy.  But that is now obsolescent. The only one now that approaches that for mg content is DTD5018A  7.4 -7.9 Mg. Corrosion resistance similar to the 7000 series alloys, with similar compositions. Not only the Copper,iron,nickel, but also lead
,titanium,silicon,zinc,manganese and tin.  The 7000 series having Zirconium, but no tin or nickel.  Trevor Southwell 12/12/02
I believe that the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) of
magnesium is very different (greater) that that of aluminum. This may have an effect on press fits (bearings and spindles coming loose).  The amount of room temperature interference may have to be increased.  Make sure that the yield stress of the magnesium is not exceeded with the amount of press fit.  I circulated an excel worksheet some time ago that would assist with these calculations. Unknown 12/12/02
Many  thirties racers employed this material
(Elektron) with great success - but most ran castor bean oil for  lubricant which is damn near impossible to clean off , I know as I tried and failed !   This certainly served to coat and siffuse the castings thus sealing them off perfectly from the ravages of corrosion . Only later when this goop was removed for public showings in speed museums did the cases  turn to dust over years of exposure  so unprotected .   S.M. Biberman 12/02/12
There appears to be a British company named
"Magnesium Elektron"  ( which first produced magnesium alloy in 1936.  (And thus perhaps the metal in those Lightning brakes?) Here is a data sheet on their current line of casting alloys:            Dave  12/13/02
Elektron is really nowadays a sort of generic name, even if originally a proprietary trade name, for a high-magnesium aluminum casting alloy. And from the handbook data, perhaps BS4L53 was the std. "Elektron" material years ago when the BL brakeplates and all the other racing factories' parts were made, but that is now obsolescent and if an English foundry wants to make the modern equivalent, the only thing available is the DTD5018A which has a couple points less percentage of
magnesium.   Bill Hoddinott  12/13/02

Vincent Scroll: I would figurethat the type face is probably Cheltenham Bold Condensed which is American Type founders name for the font. Linotype called it the same - Intertype named it Cheltonian. What computer companies designated it I don't know. Part of the V is narrower which fits the picture. Cooper Black is similar and of the proper heft but all parts are even and the typeface is not condensed {thinner in shape}. Hope this helps from an old Newspaper compositor who ran a job-shop on the side to pay for Triumph , Ariel and Vincent Motorcycles.  Bernie McGarrah  12/9/02

I have to add my view of exhaust threads: Norton got it right the first time - the threads are bulletproof ! The thread is not as fine as on a Vin  - thus cannot be crossthreaded.The only thing to watch is the following: tighten it up and check after every ride for the first 1000 mls. You will find that after several tightening "sessions" (usually three or four) there is no need to check again as they stay tight forever.The only mistake is that Nortons produced a lockwasher with bending ears for securing the rings - WRONG! DON`T EVER USE THESE! Any locking device is useless - if it comes loose it was NOT TIGHT ENOUGH BEFORE!!! The threaded ring will settle down as will the gasketwasher behind - leaving the ring NOT dead tight thus wearing away the thread through vibrations if secured by anything.In fact - if you don´t use any securing device you will immediately notice the soundchange because the nut unthreads within a couple of miles completely and thus does not ruin the thread! If secured by a lockring the owner will notice first some banging and popping on the overrun - try to cure by different carb settings - and will find out that the pipe is not airtight any more when it almost has ruined the thread completely! I race and ride my Norton twins now for more than twenty years without any problems at all - at least not with the exhaust thread.It does not matter if the engine is flexible mounted or not - if anything lets go its the pipe that will crack  - never will a tight exhaust nut come loose.The only trick on engines directly bolted to the frame is the following: never fully tighten the exhaust clamp connecting the pipe with the silencer - there must be some allowance for movement through heatexpansion. I cured several Triumphs which had a habit of fracturing pipes.(Once read this tip in Classic Bike - was a story about 500mls racing on production bikes) The only Norton modell that once and again breaks its left pipe is the "S" Type (this is because of the tight radius making the pipe very rigid). These were cured the same way - I fitted a NOS pipe and clamped the silencer only lightly - never any problems again! If you fit aftermarked pipes you will find they are not worth the money - they break and usually don´t fit well.

On Vincents its a different matter: the thread is too fine (good for self -locking but easy to crossthread). The real problem is the low quality of Vincents machining. Trevor once stated that he had heads for repair with the exhaust track 1/4 inch out !!!!(think he states that fact in the technical articles in "") No wonder that the fabricated exhausts (original or reproduced) never fit properly thus leaving you with the only option to have an exhaust produced ON your bike.(will fit only your bike of course). On my own bike the threads were worn of course so I took the easy way out: milled them out completely and fitted a tube - welded around and bingo - I have a solid tube where I push my pipes over (only secured by two springs each) and have that extractor effect as well as my welded tube is not tapered out to the inner dia of the pipe.

So what do I do when a client wants his ruined thread repaired? I mill out the thread completely and make an aluminium threaded insert. This is shrunk in and welded on the INNER end and on the outer end.After welding most of the outer weld is dressed away while the inner weld is squared in the mill. The repair is invisible and solid forever.I saw many bushes (steel,bronce,brass) come loose - they have to sooner or later - so I prefer aluminium.   Hartmut  12/7/02

Exhaust Nuts: I always lightly grease with disc type wheel bearing grease the threads on both  head and finned locking ring . This special grease { specific Disc} will resist over 500 degrees with no running so remains anywhere it's used on a hot motor . In 50 years never had any exhaust thread damage to describe. I use this goop to cover and slick every moving steel component in the gearchange compartment: ratchets, springs, rollers , pushrod pressure point , splines , sector teeth,  bushings, and shafts . Everything. Nothing ever rusts or shows wear over years of road work. I have seen many Vincents with rust evident on all these components, this leading to stiff action and advanced wear.  A lovely smooth function results which reains for years, this grease staying where put no matter how hot the motor gets.  Sid  12/07/02 
Flanders has just about anything for making cables including wire, ends, housing, etc.  Check out:    11/16/02

    To drop both side stands at once you must remove the 5/16" B.S.F. bolt that goes through the side of the propstand plate. Of course be sure all of your springs are intact. It sounds like you might be missing the FT120 spring.  Please consider if you are using the stock prop-stands your motorcycle shall fall over first chance it gets, beyond the shadow of a doubt. Trevor Southwell (has done in the past) a great little modification replacing the bosses at a steeper angle which helps considerably.
Then too, Maughan & Sons make a "foot extender" that also works very well. You  cut the old pro-stand apart and weld in the new, longer foot.  I made my own extenders and also had Trevor modify the bosses...and I am Still not satisfied with the stands, most especially with real heavy panniers installed.Plus, if you are using Petteford or Thornton Springs don't even consider using the prop stand without a block under it.  My bike has fallen over seven times in 12 years and the Best  insurance I found is the piece I took off the day I bought it, the Britax straight crash bar. I thought it ugly and useless, but re-installed it on a whim.  Each time the bike has fallen over the Britax has saved my bacon. Only once did it receive a minor scratch, on the front mudguard.  I like the crash bar so much I milled a 6" x 1/4 inch slot in each side and installed l5 LED's in each I now use as turn signals.   If you must use the stock prop-stands do not leave home without a 2" block of wood in your pocket to put under the stand when you park the machine. Personally, I would not consider putting together a machine with the stock prop-stands. The possibility exists your stands may be so worn you may have to dab some weld on the mating flange(s) and file to fit. Still, I love the look of the stock stands. But you can easily solve the whole problem by installing any number of stands at the rear footpeg mount. But I love the idea of being able to lean the bike left, or right. It makes the spectators point and turn their heads at a funny angle.  Carl Hungness  10/25/02

Vincent articles in "Iron Horse" magazine:
May '81:  '49 B Rap with left hand K/S bought new by George Hibbard of NJ
June '81:  Ultra-cool Shadow with green tank, with FLAMES, formerly owned by Ken Gibson in Chicago and then by George Morgan (I think in CT)
October '81:  Feature on Vincent Owners at Daytona; John Selodrak (who I  didn't see again), the late, great Bert Weisz, Dave Matson, Marv Kummet, Rick Voshel, and myself.
June '83:  Rip Tragle's twin plug, 32mm Del'Orto clad Egli    Bruce Metcalf  7/22/02

General Technical Info: Go to, and hit the Tech Tips tab.  Lotsa information about brit bikes. Ken Smith  6/20/02

Oil Leaks: If you have never used dye in the oil to trace leaks, let me highly recommend this method. You can buy the dye from most auto parts stores and use any UV (black) light source to make the dye visible after it has leaked out. I have used Tracer Products P/N TP 3400 "Dye-Lite All-In-One Leak and Detection Dye for Oil and Oil-Based Fluids".

I used an entire 1-oz. bottle costing $5.00 in the tank of  F10AB/1/399 but I think you could use half the bottle or less, especially with a powerful UV source. The brighter the UV light source, the easier it is to see the leakage. I'm using a dual-purpose 4W light obtained from the normal use of which you will see if you visit their web site. It is very handy to use in a dark shop. 4W is ok but it's effectiveness declines quickly as the batteries drain. Rechargable batteries are very handy as well. Severs  6/19/02

Rollie Free Postcards: This post card was reproduced in the mid 80s - I have ten of them bought at that time.  The one on the web site appears to be original; the repros have the picture, but the colors are much brighter and only the legend on the top is included, and it has been moved to below the painting.  On the back is the legend [sic] "Ronald R Free of Los Angeles, Calif., riding a British-Vincent Motor-Cycle in a prone position to cut down wind resistance, on Sept. 11, 1950, established a
new American speed record for 1 mile @ 156.71 miles per hour.  Mr. Free's picture was taken from an automobiile running parallel to the black line while traveling in excess of 100 M.P.H. just before the auto reached the measured 1 mile zone of the 13 mile straight-a-way course, Mr. Free caught up with the automobile and immediately after his picture was taken, he gave his Motor-Cycle the gun; the photographers say it seemed like they were standing still, the way he left them with his sudden burst of speed".

The card was printed by Quantity Postcards, 1402 Grant Street, San Francisco, CA 94133.  Tel (415) 986-8866.  It also says "reproduction - postcard circa 1950" in the lower left back corner.  So, maybe these are still available if the company is still in business - shouldn't be hard to find out!   David Stein  6/19/02

Head Lug Bracket:Before the slotted type FT3 Head Bracket came into use there were 2 patterns of the earlier type FT1 Head Lug casting that fitted over the solid FT3. The very early FT1 has a round section going down to the fork where the FT3 fits in. On the later type this part of the casting was changed to a rectangular section.  N. Videan  6/19/02

Series D Tail Section
Vincent Marine Engine: 
They were originally made for air/sea rescue and  fitted to airborne lifeboats, a complete aluminium shell which could be dropped to men in the water from an aircraft. A 500cc capacity engine was fitted in which frugality of fuel consumption was paramount. Designed in 1942 to run a 1,000 sea miles on 50 gallons of more or less whatever petrol came to
hand from Pool to Aviation spirit, it was conceived in good time, outperformed an Austin marine engine by 100% in prototype and passed its AID inspection out of the box. However, development and a vacillating Air Ministry kept Vincents busy until 1949 and that was too late, only fifty being made. Weighing just 256 lbs, the unit is a twin crankshaft opposed six, the
pistons moving inwards to form a common combustion space, thus this six has three bores.  Two of the cylinders are pumping cylinders and charge the Uniflow two stroke by their compression, as the engine does not use crankcase compression.

Looking nothing like an engine, the lumpy rectangular thing might be anything at all. Only the two spark plugs sticking up out of the block and the brass-bodied Amal carb give it away. It's in pretty good condition, wearing mostly its original coat of Admiralty grey paint, somewhat chipped and worn as one might expect. It has all its tags and plates, being number 14 of a single batch of fifty made. The only thing that is missing is the ancillaries cover that covers the starter, generator and magneto.

I've not tried to start it yet, but there is no reason to expect it won't go - it was last started ten years ago. I'm stuck for someone to give me a hand with it tonight, so will still have it in the back of the Volvo at the Sodbury Sort out tomorrow if anyone wants to have a look at the strange device.   Kim   5/3/02

Lightening camshaft pinions:  Drilling holes in the cam wheels between the teeth and the center of the wheel, in order to lighten the valve train, is always a good thing in my book.  A rotary table is a machine shop fixture which allows you to rotate a workpiece in very tight tolerances under the cutting tool. Basically a superfly lazy susan.  They have threaded centers to which you can mount a stud or whatever to first center the table under the cutter.  In addition to the 1.5 inch centering stud I made a .501 inch center in order to easily mount my cam.  Having mounted the cam dead center on the table, I could move out in one direction a prescribed amount (can't remember the figure just now) and drill the first hole.  Then, by releasing the table, I could rotate the cam 30 degrees for each successive hole, ending up with 12 holes (30 degrees x 12 locations = 360 degrees).  When finished with the first, I just lift it off, drop the next one over the 0.501 center, and it is in line ready for drilling.  George Bewley  3/12/02
Motorcycle Insurance: JC Taylor, limit 2500 miles per year.  For 4 vehicles runs about $170 per year. Full comprehensive, fire collision, liability, theft, etc. They permit me to use the vehicles for non-event or club related activity as long as none of them are my primary vehicle. I  also had to send them pictures and value estimates, plus state that I store  them in locked, weather tight storage.   Carl  2/22/02
A few years ago I bought an
Eastwood powder coater.   The thing is just great . The powder that it uses is polyester for colors and polyurathane for clear. If you want high gloss use the one called mirror black . They also have a body filler that you can powder coat and it can stand 500degF vs 400degF for the powdercoat. When you use the filler it should be degased by heating it to 400deg for about 20mins, if you don't you will get bubbles. For doing a frame, heat the frame up to 400deg and
shoot it while its hot, then get a couple of quartz heaters and finish melting it a section at a time, Of course a big oven would be best, but they cost money. Little parts can be done in a little toaster oven or an old kitchen oven. So far I've powdercoated many small parts, two moto X bike frames one motoguzzi frame and both my ex wives .    The moto-X bike frames were used for racing and the most wear occured where the riders feet were in contact with the frame.  The paint wore off just like enamel paint would.  Experiment-- if you screw it up you can sand it down a little and shoot it again. Small parts can be striped of powdercoat by letting them soak in a bucket of acetone overnight. The coating will gell and can then be removed by whatever means you want.  And YES you can do a professional job. Why? Because you can take your time and be more meticulous than the jobbers. To get back to the heaters, they are the convection type not the ones that have a fan. Also they have to be positioned very close to the part to work well . I have two heaters made by a company called Marvin. I found them on the internet and they cost about 35USD.   T Monte  2/4/02
A consultation with Phil Irving when I was building my racing bike about
exhaust pipe diameters bought this response. Two large bore 2" pipes suit top end power as in drag racing, sprinting and record breaking. For circuit racing and track work smaller diameter pipes are more suitable. I ended up using 2" pipes because they looked good and sounded the part and I figured I could forego a couple of horse power for that. I think that would probably apply to 2 into 1s as well.  Ken Phelps  1/28/02
Base gaskets.  I always follow the local guru's advice and make my own paper gaskets from the thinnest material I can get my hands on, and never had a leak or a problem and have never had to re-torque anything. I would never use any silicone rtv type stuff anywhere near any cover except the primary. One little spec of that can plug an oil gallery faster than you can think about it.  I have used (on our BSA R3 racer) locktite gasket eliminator both on the base and on the rocker boxes. Anyone familiar with these engines will know that these are two problem areas. This stuff does not congeal and is not a threat to oilways. Robert Watson  11/29/01

Paper gaskets, in my experience, are really only much good for very small torque applications, like case covers and the such.  Amazing stuff, paper. It seems to just continue to compress no matter how many times your torque it.  Go Yamabond or some such and leave the paper in the outhouse. There are paper gaskets available for the Norton Commandos cylinder base
application, but almost everyone discards them and goes with sealant.  I certainly did.  It is also suggested by the Tech Tips published by the INOA.  Gaskets for this kind of application should be metalic, imho.

Insofar as oils go, I have a buddy who successfully campaigned a Guzzi.  He had gone to iron liners and was breaking the engine in at the track (fresh top end only).  Couldn't get any power and was using Synthetic.  Ended up doing the age old trick of throwing a teaspoon or so of Bartender's Helper down the carb to bed in his rings.  Don't laugh, it really works.  So, go with Dino oil until broken in.

You will most likely find that you must use gaskets on the covers, but this is because the covers most likely aren't flat.  Next time you have the machine down all the way (may it be a long time), glue some 120 grit Al-Oxide sandpaper to a large, thick sheet of glass and true all the surfaces to themselves.  For right now, you could get some engineers' blue and check your covers.  If you get good contact, you would be alright to run Hylomar or some other non-setting sealant.  Glenn Bewley  11/29/01

Base gaskets.  I'm about to put a VIn top end on myself and am curious about this.  I'm leaning towards not using paper gaskets.  Normally on an all alloy top end I would just use a sealer.  I recently used 2-.015 thick paper gaskets and a compression plate on my Velo (alloy barrel) to adjust the barrel height.  After a bit of running the head torque was way down, those gaskets really squished down.  Now I see they seem to be squeezing there way out as well.  With no base gaskets in the past I've not had to retorque.  Vincents have some different stress loads on the top ends with the engine mounting so maybe someone in the know will advise.

Never had a pushrod leak at the top.  I've had the bottom seals work there way up.  Just pushed them back down with glue.
I only use sealer on the timing chest, being carefull around oil holes. I have valve seals with no metering wires and no smoke, so I would leave them out and see. Agree with Ken, don't use synthetic for break in.  Non-detergent mineral base is what many people use for ring break in.

I use a HD Dyna coil, mounted inside the mag cowl.  One thing to keep in mind, instead of one end of the secondary winding being grounded as in a regular coil, it goes to the second plug, meaning the current goes from one coil pole through the  plug electrode to ground, then back from ground through the second electrode and back to the coil.  In other words a complete circuit using both plugs is required to fire either plug, if one plug goes open the other cylinder won't fire either (the affected cylinder can have it's plug wire grounded to get you home).  The Dyna coils come in different resistances, get one that falls in the Boyer spec range.  You will have a wasted spark but it has never been a problem. Paul Zell  11/28/01

I thought the Britax crash bar was the worst looking thing I'd ever seen on a motorcycle when I bought my Vincent, and ripped it off immediately. Then after my cosmetic rebuild I re-installed it, and since the bike has tipped over six times, with absolutely NO damage to the machine what-so-ever. The crash bar was a stroke of genius, in my estimation.  In fact, I have milled a quarter inch slot in mine, (one each side) and installed a row of l3 LED lights to serve as turn signals.I made a lens out of clear tubing, (split it).  My point here is that I would not remove the crash bar under any circumstances.  Carl Hungness  7/8/01
How to make a crash/badge bar in stainless steel:

(1)  length of 24" ( 610mm) long x 5/8" (16mm) dia. threaded rod. eg 5/8BSF, 5/8UNF or M16
(2)  lengths of 10 1/2" ( 267mm ) long x 7/8" ( 22mm ) OD polished stainless steel tube. Wall thickness not important but suggest 16SWG ( 1/16", 1.5mm ).
(2) stainless steel full nuts to match threaded rod.
(2) stainless steel dome nuts to match threaded rod.

For a 1/4" ( 6mm ) length reduce the hex. on all nuts to a diameter equal to the ID of the tube.Polish the nuts. Insert threaded rod thru' upper front s/car mtg. lug and equalise, spin on the full nuts and tighten, slid on the tubes ( locating them onto the reduced diameter ), spin on dome nuts and tighten.  It took longer to type this than to make it.  Jeff Bowen  05/06/01

One of the best modifications to the sidestand is to change the angle of the "bosses" on the FTll8/lAS Front Stand Bracket Assembly to give the sidestands themselves less angle. You need to mill away the old bosses, re-install new ones. Trevor Southwell performs the job perfectly.  Then, if you are also running longer rear springs, and modified front springs, even the aforementioned mod is not enough, especially if you try to park the machine on the side stand along with some panniers on it.
You can extend the stands themselves by cutting at the point where they are brazed into their "feet", drilling, and inserting a length of suitable tubing.Some careful fitting and the mod will not be noticeable to most. This business of fitting a block under the feet will look, well, it will look like a block under the stand. Plus, you will encounter problems when you want to actually utilize the stand for its intended purpose of holding the front wheel off the ground.  Carl Hungness  04/27/01
Regarding the longer "feet" for the
propstands, actually Tony Maughan & Sons Phone 01400 230212 (in the United Kingdom of course) makes the extended feet.Thus, they may be available from your favorite dealer . You can extend the stands themselves by cutting at the point where they are brazed into their "feet," drilling, and inserting a length of suitable  tubing. Some careful fitting and the mod will not be noticeable to most. Carl Hungness  04/19/01

If you want a sensible side stand that keeps the bike stable, especially when loaded with luggage, then use one from a Honda VFR400. Drill 2 holes in the LH pillion footrest plate.  Jeff  04/19/01

Red  Rapide Paint:  Dupont Centari  Enamel #   29198   AH   Sid Biberman  03/30/01

The mercury crest transfers turned out to be water slide. Went onto the steering head very nicely, using the backing paper and then paper toweling to remove moisture and smooth out bubbles.  Next, the tank Vincent scroll backing did not separate with warm water. I added isopropol alcohol and the backing came off, leaving a facing layer with the transfer itself on the back of this layer. However, the transfer remained affixed to the facing layer and would not stick to the tank. The transfer material seems to be very thin, almost like a layer of paint, that evidently must adhere to the paint surface well enough to allow the
tissue facing material to be peeled off. I'm wondering if this is a type of transfer requires some type of varnish
or other adhesive on the tank.    Jack Severson  03/24/01

With modern technology we can now scan decals (even if they are a bit faded and tattered and mounted on round parts like
a head stock) and then a graphic artist can clean them up and then print them out on a color laser printer on decal material and amazingly enough, you have a repro of the original decal, ready to be applied.

1.  You can shoot digital photos of the original decal positioning on all the parts.
2.  You can reproduce Every decal on a motorcycle.
3.  After shooting the paint, apply the decals, by  grabbing images of motorcycle parts in the digital camera and then overlaying the Original digital images to perfectly position the decals.
4.  After the decals are in place,  shot clear over them.
Cost?  $150 over the basic paint job.

Speedo Bracket Paint:  Klenk's Appliance Enamel (,  is an
epoxy-based aerosol.  It dries to a very hard finish, and looks pretty good when smoothed down with ultrafine sandpaper and polished with compound. I've tried PJ1 Fast Black Epoxy in the past, and this seems about equivalent but at about half the price.  Not sure what its availability is outside the US.  Multiple very thin coats at 30-minute intervals are the way to go; otherwise locally thick areas build up and cause problems.  It's also hard to get any coverage on sharp edges, so rounding them slightly with a file gives a better end result.   Dave Hartner  01/09/01
Steering Head Bearings:bearing numbers - Outer  48Y   Inner  30 YM.  You would need to turn up a sleeve for the outer and also one to reduce the inner diameter. But my opinion is that there is far too much surface contact, plus the fact that the two bearings have to be exactly in line to work properly. I know you Vincent headstock is not accurate enough to allow this without correcting. Balls have a little more latitude.

Standard bearings with quarter inch balls measure .640" in height when assembled. The taper roller bearings that I posted the numbers of  are .510" overall. So theres a .130 spacer needed somewhere to get back to standard dimensions. Trevor  12/29/00

Red Rapide:  Only black components:  speedo housing;  seat cover;  tail-light shell; license bracket. Over on the left side the Miller regulator cover and the generator end-cap were red.  Sid Biberman 12/29/00
Stan Harris in South Africa has a very late D
Lightning engine built for a Cooper car that was never picked up and Stan's father bought it from the factory in 1956.  The pictures I saw in '91 showed it still with valve covers screwed into th exhaust ports, although I understand it is now being built into a complete bike.  Robert Watson  12/20/00

Rare Vincents: The Meteors were few but more than one. It seems that I heard that there were 10 to 20 built but I don't know for sure. I've seen 3, had one in pieces. Only Gordon probably knows for sure.  2C Lightnings were made in 55, following the advent of diecast cases. The records here are a little sketchy in that the records for the diecast motors were lost. A new one surfaced about 3 years ago in the states. I included Lightnings in one cluster, otherwise one could argue 52 Lightning is rarer than a 53 because they only made 2.5 that year, etc. You could also get into HRD Lightnings VS sandcast Lightnings VS diecast Lightnings VS transition Lightnings VS Lightnings that went back to the factory and had the letters HRD removed (It was done to one). Shoot, each one was hand built anyway. I don't think any body would turn down one in favor of another. "Gee, thanks but I really had my heart set on a diecast Lightning".  I've seen one totally orginal (as in untouched) red Rapide. It even had red rubber tubes (I had to do that!). Actually they weren't completly red in that the Miller components other than the head light were usually left black. This usually included the the license plate bracket and speedo bracket.  They seemed to be built in 2  batches. The first were with transition cases (HRD case with the HRD removed). These seem to be in the 27xx range of  serial numbers. The second batch had Vincent embossed cases.These seemed to be in the 44xx range. I've had 3-4 go through my hands (Does that make me red handed?!). They were not a success sales wise. Dealers would often paint them black upon removal from the crate!  Somer Hooker  12/20/00
The VOC  records pertaining to (postwar
Meteors) and Mr. Adams state that only 26  were built in 1950. Sid Biberman  12/20/00.

Rarest Vincents: Among the rarest are:
* Road Going Black Lightning (1)
* D Comets (2)
* Shadow Specials (2)
* Shadows built as Lightnings (2)
* Red White Shadows with 1A serial #  (2)
* Roadgoing Grey Flashes (3-4)
* Red Comets (17)
* Black Lightnings (30-35)
* Grey Flashes (~ 40)

I can't count higher than 50 so everything else is academic. I'm sure there are some prewar statistics I don't know (TTR's). There were about 117 Red Vincents and 80 Series B Black Shadows, including 4 that were sold with "Vincent" embossed cases and Brampton forks. They also made Touring Shadows and Comets. Experience has taught me that rarity and value do not go hand in hand.  The most common one seems to be the Basket Case that someone is going to fix one day.  If  I've erred, let me know as some of this is based on "Lore" I've heard over the years.  Somer Hooker  12/09/00

Repainting cases and covers with Plastikote Hot Engine Enamel:  After a super good cleaning and a final spritz off with
electrical contact cleaner {PJ1} to remove any finger prints and a blow-dry, the real artful work begins.  Provide floodlights all around as the color black eats up illumination.  This so neccessary to good even coverage and  between lower fins and other obscure spots.  I  prefer to do the cases with all covers held in place by old dingy but clean screws, all inspection caps in place,  all other holes plugged with rolled-up masking tape,  all machined surfaces covered with tape,  and any openings sealed off.  I have a set of old scarred caps I use just for this purpose. Be sure your hands are grease/oil free doing this job.

The room and cases should be warm, about 78 - 80 degrees F.   I prefer to start with the cases upside down, resting on the tips of the big cylinder head studs, working my way around and down towards the studs . This way the bottom messed up spots when flopped over onto the bottom are easily touched up, and are not seen anyway.  Warm the cans in water to body temperature before use to get more consistant flow and pattern .
Some nozzles do better than others so swap the good one to the next can.  Blow clean with the PJ1 through the nozzle in both directions.  Light fog coat first, allowed to setup a few minutes to create tight base tooth. Now, walking around  the motor, this sitting on a bar stool - about level with your belly and well flood-lit - spray with fairly rapid but smooth passes left to right and back again, distance 12 to 14 inches away.  Light overlapping  passes across the case bottom {now upwards facing you}     keeping up that smooth motion as you walk slowly yet steadily around the motor on its stool. Keep a keen eye out for any
signs of a run developing - thus the need to use only light repeated passes while moving constantly - all to limit the thickness of the paint deposited in any one place.

When you reach past the halfway down location - stop. Rest a moment.  Now a test of your strength !  Grasping the long studs now beneath, now focusing your effort, you raise upwards the wet and glistening case and while held aloft you rotate it so that studs now point upwards -and sit it back down on its bottom without marring its shiny coat.  Take up the spraying process once again where you left off a moment earlier, the paint still wet from the last pass.  Blending in an overlapping pass, continue to walk around as before. Work  upwards until you are covering the cylinder mouths and  have painted all covers and every  crevace with care.

The final judgement  to stop is a magical moment when that glisten is apparent over the full surface  like a wet piece of  hard candy. You cannot go back over it to just correct a small thin spot because the overspray will futz up other areas, even  the other side and kill that flawless glisten so desired.  Make the decision and leave the room, allowing no one to enter that room for 48  hours.

Leave the floods on to warm the surface, thus assisting it gassing off.  The final bake off will need an oven temperature of 170 to 200 degrees F.  for about 4 hours continous.  I leave the oven door cracked open about 1 inch  to allow the paint vehicle gasses to leave the surface freely.  Allow it to cool until cold sitting undesturbed in the cold oven, its door propped open about 3 to 4 inches to allow a more gradual cooling process .     Sid Biberman  11/27/00

Powder Coating:  I know it is difficult for us to powder coat our bare aluminum cases for example, as the heat utilized in the process combines with the elements to produce a thing called other words, the powder can bubble.  I had mixed results. I polished my cases (covers) to within an inch of thier lives, then powder coated both. Mostly, the cases looked just great, the film of the (clear) powder coat toned down the gloss so (to my eye) the bike did not look over -restored.  However, some outgassing was evident and there were some small bubbles in places.

In the case of the mudguards, I experienced some "crazing" whereby the powder appeared as though it cracked under a bolt head, and turned white.The headlight and forks turned out great, no bubbles at all.

I am now in the process of doing the procedure over again. To strip you can utilize the expensive aircraft stripper with very good results. Plus, MEK (methyl ethyl keotone) also works, but it is best if the part is completely submerged. The aircraft quality stripper works (n my estimatio) best, and you won't have to worry about blasting.  If you will brush the stripper on, in one direction, in a warm room, then cover it with Saran wrap (a clear film) it will be most effective as chemicals will not evaporate immediately.

You do have to worry about is masking the part before coating. Make sure you mask all flat gasket surfaces, plus plug any holes as the process is electrostatic and will attract the powder to oil galleys, threads, holes, etc. Removing it with a file is possible, but tedious.  Overall I would not be afraid to powder coat a set of cases (Black for example) or even clear with proper preparation.

On flat areas (such as the chainguard) you will experience some orangepeel (waviness). The problem can be addressed by actually sanding the powder coat and spraying with a clear lacquer. I did mine with good results.

I just polished the fins of my cylinders, spent HOURS cleaning off the residue, and then had the cylinders coated black. White the paint is wet, the powder coater wipes each fin with his finger and leaves it shiny...I'll do the same with my cylinder heads.You can see the same procedure on  custom Harleys in the bike magazines today. To my eye, the fins now sparkle and look great.   For those in the Midwest looking for a conscientious coater, I recommend Indy Powder Coating at 317 244-2231    Carl Hungness   11/19/00

I've used Imron.  It is a two part polyurethane plastic that is as thin as lacquer.  It dries very fast and coats can be applied in 20 minute intervals until the desired thickness is achieved.  I found it very easy to apply. However,  breathing the vapors is lethal!!!  I devised some very sophisticated breathing aparatus and do all my painting in a plastic film tent so no vapors escape.  I cover all exposed skin, wear goggles, and breath only outside air through my special aparatus.  Some stores, I'm told, will not sell this paint to anyone but recognized paint shops due to it dangerous nature,
however, I had no problem buying mine.  I believe the final finish to be non-brittle--it's polyurethane plastic, but I
make no claim that is correct.  Jay Schaffer  11/18/00
Beware of
powder coating on the engine. It is difficult to get  powdercoaters to apply it evenly and thinly. Original paint was very thin,  as it should be. Barely enough to color. Any more retards heat transfer. I  suspect parts were dipped originally.  Contamination  in old castings is difficult to remove and troublesome in powdercoating  because it keeps coming out as parts are heated. I've tried both powder and  wet painting. I prefer wet painting with catalyzed urethane for the most  authentic look and performance.  Steve Hamel  11/18/00
Info on building a "D" Comet:  I used an upper frame member from a Prince and then reinforced the necessary triangle with two additional side members running from the head bolts to the hole at the top of the F106.  I had previously obtained an unmachined F106, from Ron Kemp,  which I had suitably reinforced with weld and slotted to accept the rear lug of the UFM.  Incidentally I also had the two lugs at the bottom of the F106 lengthened with weld and remachined the bottom of the casting to accept an AMC box.  There are many problems you will encounter along the way if you follow my method.  The seat fame will not line up at top and bottom mounting points without resiting the lugs supporting the oil tank to allow the tubes to be closed up about an inch at the mounting points.  This is due to dimensional differences between the singles and twins.  I also was unable to fit the petrol tank between the front of the seat frame and the steering head lug without enlarging the cut-away at the front of the petrol tank.  Again this appears to be due to dimensional differences on the different models.  Incidentally, Paul Richardson refers to dimensional differences in his book,  but does not give any details.  I also manufactured stand plates, centre stand and several other parts peculiar to the "D" single by scaling them up from photographs of the original.  I would think it must be possible to modify a "C" UFM to accept a "D"  spring/damper unit,  but I would suspect you will meet all sorts of similar problems to myself if you want to use other standard "D" parts.       D.J.P.  11/03/00

 Removing Kreem from a gas tank:   My tank had been Kreemed by the previous owner.  It was clear he'd done a poor job, since you could see uncoated areas through the filler opening, but it seemed intact and there was no rust when I cleaned the tank out some time back.  So, I left the Kreem in when I had the tank refinished (very nicely, with real gold leaf) by Cycle Colors.

All was well until last week, when I disconnected a carb and found the float bowl full of fine rust.  Looking through the filler opening with a flashlight revealed that rust had formed beneath the Kreem, causing big sheets of it to separate from the tank's roof - I pulled out a couple of large sections through the opening.

The situation was fraught with peril, since most things that remove rust or tank coatings can also be relied on to damage exterior finishes.  With input from Kreem Inc., Allan Johncock and Somer Hooker I determined that Kreem dissolves in methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) or acetone.  Both these will attack paint, so I needed a way to protect the finish during the operation.
 Fortunately, the Kreem people had useful advice:  use a product called Liquid Overspray Mask.  This is made by 3M and others, and used in auto body shops.  It's a water-based coating that you brush or spray on, and when dry it protects a surface from paint spray (and acetone - I checked). The good part is that it's water-soluble, so cleans up easily afterwards.

After giving the tank a couple of solid coats of LOM, I dissolved out the Kreem with repeated doses of acetone. It took most of a gallon before the Kreem was all gone.  Naturally, having protected the paint I managed to do all this without spilling a drop of acetone...

Next step is to remove the rust with a phosphoric acid solution - the tank's been sitting for a couple days filled with this, and should be about derusted.  To protect the exterior from the acid, I gave it a thick coating of wax.

I'm planning not to recoat the tank, as the coatings seem to cause big trouble unless applied perfectly - quite possibly I would mess it up just like the PO did.  Instead, I figure on keeping the tank full to avoid condensation.     Dave Hartner  10/27/00

From what I've read, one reason for using phosphoric acid to remove rust instead of, say, hydrochloric, is that the former leaves a phosphate coating on the metal that deters rust to some degree.  Whether this is actually true I can't say, not having tried it yet, but it sounds plausible.

I drained the acid this evening and found some rust remaining in the tank, so I put it back in at a higher concentration.  May take a few more days, though.  I'll report on the eventual outcome.

Don't know why Kreem sometimes holds up well, other times not.  Most problems seem to relate to inadequate surface prep, but apparently you can get away with that sometimes.  My tank was probably coated about 11 years ago, though, so the Kreem had plenty of time to loosen.  Dave Hartner  10/27/00

I have used the POR-15 tank sealer in about a dozen tanks with no failures.  It's silver finish looks much like bare metal after the gloss goes away.  I  use it even in tanks that are in good shape leak wise, just to be sure.  After spending hours with paint and gold leaf, the last thing I want is a blister because of a pin hole.  Even saved a BSA dirt bike tank that had 1/8
inch holes rusted in the bottom.  Just put some duct tape on the outside poured it in.  I've also repaired dents in previously POR 15 coated tanks and recoated over the old stuff with no problems.  It's good stuff.  Better than looking at rust when you open the gas cap.  Paul Zell  10/27/00

I use an aircraft tank sealer that is made by Randolph Products in New Jersey.  They do not sell direct so I buy it from Aircraft Spruce Specialities in Georgia.  Ed Mellinger   10/27/00

Re: Gas Tank Rust
Get into the habit of using a good upper cylinder lubricant, it helps.  Trevor   10/27/00

HALF A THOUSAND (great story by Ted Davis)

    Everyone knows half a thousand is 500, but the bike I was riding about nearly 30 years ago had more than one onlooker looking mystified, to say the least.

    Perhaps I'd better start from the beginning when Eric Winterbottom was successfully campaigning a single seat racing car with a 1,000 cc Vincent power unit and wanted to switch rapidly from 1,000 to 500, in order to compete in two classes in one day.

    The problem when presented to Stevenage was soon solved.  The rear rod, piston, barrel and head was removed and a few necessary bits and pieces added or subtracted, plus a spot of re-balancing and hey presto!, a quick change power unit mounted VIA the identical bolts, brackets, etc.

    With a compression ratio close [sic] on 14:1, the Lightning specification single-lunger needed a diet of ethanol/Benzole/petrol, on which it motored along quite respectably, if not sensationally.  In order to run it in and
check for unseen snags, it was mounted in a standard bicycle using a non-operative rear head and barrel to provide the UFM rear attachment point.

    Externally it looked like a standard Twin except for the following omissions: rear carburetter, rear exhaust pipe, rear plug lead.

    First, how'd did it go?  Strangely enough it felt exactly like a Twin with the rear plug lead missing, no carburetter and no exhaust pipe--and sounded like that too.  Handling was inferior to the Comet and maximum speed was also down on a similarly tuned standard-type 500, 100 mph only coming with reluctance.  It was of course heavier than a Comet with more transmission drag and a much less rigid flywheel assembly.  The bottom half of a Comet is probably the best in the business, with a tremendous margin of safety (look at Brian Chapman's 'Mighty Mouse').

    My first contact with the unsuspecting public was whilst thumping along towards Cambridge at about 80 plus;  I overtook a 998cc side-valve AJS Twin.  Stopping a few miles further on to check for anything loose, etc., the AJS man stopped to enquire [sic] after my, or my bikes, health.  I replied that my rear carburetter had fallen off, but I would proceed with one, which I did
without more ado.  I met the same chap some time later when he came to work at Vincents [sic].  He lost no time there reciting the story of the Vincent tester who carried on testing the bike even after the carb and, whats [sic] more, the exhaust had both fallen off!

    The next incident was with a caller at my house one evening, who had frequently badgered me for a ride on a Twin.  To his surprise, he was actually asked on this occasion and was soon astride kicking lustily.  A couple of stalls and he was away, returning 10 minutes later smiling and full of enthusiasm, not wishing to appear ignorant or ungrateful and having experience
of nothing better than a 350 AJS, plus a long line of less potent devices, he chose to make no comment--only gazing somewhat blankly at the rear cylinder head!

    It was at the local motor-cycle club night where he really got the odd looks, enquiring [sic] if it was possible to run a Vincent Twin without a carb, exhaust or connected-up plug on one cylinder.

    Finally I connected up the exhaust, fitted a carb and stuck a plug lead on and rode to a local friendly motor-cycle dealer, complaining of loss of power.  Still relatively new to many motor-cyclists, a Vincent Twin was always guaranteed to bring out most of the curious of any motor-cycle shop, this one being no exception.  Advice and assistance was volunteered from all

    Spark and fuel were checked and found OK.  However, a compression check soon had eager hands unscrewing plugs, inspection caps, etc.  By which time I had withdrawn from the hum of activity.  Suddenly an excited voice said 'The
piston's gone'.  'Gone where' said I.  'Damned if I know, I only know it's bloody gone' came the reply.  'What about the rod, that's gone too!  'Not much I can do here then, better button it up and I'll get it back to Stevenage' said I.  'I'm going that way' said the Foreman, 'I'll come with you in case you pack up completely'.  'Thanks' I said, kicking up and accelerating off.

The Foreman never did catch up with me, although, as he related to his Fitters on his return: 'My Inter Norton was absolutely flat out for nearly 25 miles, just imagine how those bloody things must go on two pots--and what a way to ride a bike with a broken up rod and no piston!'.

    You'll want to know how it went in the car, no doubt.  Winterbottom's comment:  'Bloody awful, like Half a Thousand!'

Ted Davis   10/13/00

The Winterbottom Half a Thousand is in fact stamped F5AB/3/***** i.e. 5 = 500cc the c/cases are alive and well in the care of a well known VOC member in the UK.    Ian Savage  10/14/00

I've been thinking a lot about oiling lately. Here is some recent experience of my own. Built a 48 Shadow for IOM rally. Maughan big end, 8:1 Omegas, .0028" clearance, 2start pump, Andrews/Megacycle mk3 cams, Stock carbs, 150 mains,  manual adv. KVF, 39 degrees, no cyl oiling, no metering jet, stock ports, Nitrided valves, Colsibro guides w/internal Viton X rings, special reed valve breather,(info avail on need to know basis), stock ex pipes, Toga absorption muffler, all high friction type parts Tungsten Disulfide dry film coated.

Build done just in time to make rally. Literally 3 min run time before shipping. First mile done on grass airfield at Ken Bloomfields farm north of Coventry. 150 miles to ferry. Another 50 or so getting settled before parade lap. Scraped the pipes @ Sulby, full throttle on the mountain.

Currently using 15/50 Mobil 1, oil temp runs 145F on 90F days, changing to Amzoil 20/50. No oil leaks, zero oil from breather, 50 plus rear whl hp@5500, 61.5 fp torque@3300. 2500  miles to date, engine is strong and quiet.

Does anyone know why I should not continue to use synthetic oil or plugs in the cyl oilers?   Steve Hamel  9/14/00

Cylinder oil jet: Omega Pistons are fit with Deves rings with low pressure oil ring expanders. Engine doesn't use oil and didn't even during it's rather brutal break in.

A very good description of oils and their uses (what the numbers mean, additives etc.) can be found at   Steve  9/14/00

Type in and you can have a free lesson in synthetic oils.   John  9/14/00

Synthetic Oil:  I used Mobil F1 in everything from pre-war cars to Vincents.  I used the original SHC (Synthetic Hydro Carbons) made by Mobil in the early 70s.  I was attracted by the constant five molecular structures as against the varied molecular (from 2 to five) organically derived lubricants.

Of course big ends will skid and seize go whilst using Mobil F1, or any other synthetic, because in its action of  lubrication, it removes built up sludge and gunge which then allows worn rollers and balls to skid and woggle freely.  This is especially so in the well known situation with engines that have breathers and elephant trunks all over the place that attempt to relieve the foggy oil mist generated by worn bearings.  The big end of HB and the big ends of Private Benjamin seized after some 4 to 5,000 very hard miles where no respite had been given.  Pte Benjamin mostly pulling Jet 80 with oversized ET50/2 installed.  When split open, the crankcases were as clean as new.  In fact they shone as if polished.  All surfaces, bearings and cams had good surface film and there was no sign of carbonise sludge despite the intervening years.  In HB, all bearings were replaced, and running in was done with Mobil F1 and after 3,000 miles running in, she was thrashed hard almost from start up.  We also installed a two start pumps.  What I did notice was that after five years there was little breather haze and low oil consumption.  With standard oils, oil changes should be carried out as per Rider's Handbook, but with Mobil F1, all one needed to do was to top up the tank on occasions with very long oil change intervals.  Oil filters still being changed regularly.  It all depends on the individual's approach to the machine and how one cares for an over priced almost irreplaceable pleasure asset.  Even my Kawasaki Vulcan went better on Mobil F1.  It's four valves per cylinder and twin spark plugs never giving trouble despite being used flat out almost everywhere.

This is long winded, but why pay so much for machines and parts, then neglect the lubrication.  I always considered that when it comes to lubricants, most people opt for cheapness under the guise of originality, but for me, the extra cost was worth it when considering how synthetics, stick to the Balls.    WOR  9/14/00

Lubrication: The residue deposit determined by a reisidual ash lab test (known as Loss on Ignition or LOI) is normally conducted at a high temperature (typically 900 F) and thus generally speaking would occur only in the cylinder chamber and /or
exhaust valve region of the engine. Such deposits would indicate that the piston rings and/or valve guides are bypassing oil. The differential rate of deposit due to the ash content between a diesel and  a regular oil may save you a few hundred or thousands of  miles at most but eventually........ best to addresss the cause not the symptom I would have thought.

You're right in your'e analysis of the effects of sulfur in gasoline (well actually the combustion product is SO2 and not SO3 and forms H2SO3 not H2SO4 on contact with moist air. However the effect is the same). It's actually technically fairly easy to remove sulfur from gasoline, at least down to less than 10 parts per million..This can be done through simple hydrotreating, a
process which removes sulfur as H2S. The resulting gasoline product however loses octane (particularly RON) as a resut which must be regained through  other refining processses (isomerization for example) or addition of ethanol or MTBE
as an additive (the latter soon to be banned for evironmental reasons). There is a significant cost to do this though and refiners will resist the investment to install equipment  to do it unless required. They are in business after all.

In the USA the pressure to "do it"  is politically now very strong and comes from the  environmental lobby. The bulk of SO3 in the air  is actually formed mainly from fossil fuel combustion  such as coal in power generation and it forms the imfamous "acid rain". Gasoline combustion is however a contributor. This presssure for clean up will continue to be applied, driven along  by
legislation in California, the leading state in this area of legislation.

The net result of such legislation is that gasoline will continue to get reformulated to meet the new laws on emmision control. This reformulated gasoline ("RFG") is the one we complain about w.r.t  our Vincents regarding engine timing, carburetter settings, valve wear, melting tank sealants etc. etc.

Well it ain't going to go away as you chaps in the U.K will find out soon enough,  so you all have to decide which side of the fence you're on!  Here in the USA the design of Mr. Vincent and Mr. Irving has proved remarkedly resiliant to changes...with a little added ingenuity!   Tim Holcroft  9/14/00

Lubrication:  Remember what an oil has to do. It must not only provide lubricity but must do it over a wide range of temperature, scavange and adsorb combustion products without ill effect, resist oxidation, resist water
emulsification, provide cooling, and maintain a viscocity range under differing conditions of  shear  throughout the lubrication path (thixotropic characteristic). And it must do this for thousands of miles without complaint!

Regular motor oils reallyt are the best cost effective compromise of these duties with variation provided for certain conditions such as winter/summer grades and certain engine bearing characteristics. As the duty of an engine becomes more specific (e.g. racing under extreme conditions BUT for short periods) you can formulate oils for just that service but they will lack long term maintainance of their properties. Remember Castrol R?

In a modern engine the job becomes a little easier because they are intrincically cleaner, bearing materials and design are much improved with very close working tolerances, and they run over a narrower temperature range. No doubt synthetics can do the job.

I guess my point is why would you go to a synthetic on a Vincent when regular oils will do the job, certainly far better than the oils available than at the time when it was in production, and risk an expensive failure? Is there a dramatic cost saving to be realized here or are we just embarking on a theoretical excercise into a realm none of us really understand. There is a phrase for that activity but it escapes me just at the moment.

Arthur Farrow's Dad, who was an expert, would no doubt have had it right if, as Arthur suggests, he would have said you can probably use anything, but steer clear of sythetics.  Tim Holcroft  9/14/00

Rear Chain: Inasmuch as a 520 is a quarter inch, that would be the back sprocket to get, and probably the front as well.  Dan Smith used a quarter inch O-ring chain on his trip to South America, and adjusted it for the first time the day he set out for the
cape at Tierra del Fuego some 13,000 miles into the trip.  It is more common than a 525 and therefore there is more of a
selection to choose from.  Did you know the Black Lightnings used a 1/4" chain?  I believe that weight might have been a consideration--it is in modern racing machinery.  Of course for a racing application long life is not a serious consideration.

If you check out the D.I.D. line, you will find that there are differences in the thickness of the plates, and this is reflected
in both the price and the strength of the chain.  I don't think you need the top of the line for Vincent power, considering that
these are made for bikes with two to three times the horsepower, but if you've opted for 1/4" sprockets you have retained
the option of using the very strongest 0-ring chains available.  And if you will be able to, should you have to use a chain of
greater width in an emergency (on desert bikes, it used to be common to deliberately use a rear sprocket narrower than
the intended chain, so it would be self-centering if there was a quick-stop for a flat repair, or the like).  It should go without
saying that the strongest 1/4" 0-ring today is stronger than ANY chain short of an anchor chain of the post-war era.  But
strength isn't the reason to go to an 0-ring chain--it's the lifespan, since, to a great extent, the inside lubrication is sealed
in.  The outside of the rollers still need lube, and the plates also are still exposed to all the terrible stuff out there.  And the
0-rings are not impermeable -- the Cassiar Highway killed an 0-ring chain of mine in a day, being mostly a slurry of calcium chloride and mud, with the combined attributes of valve grinding compound and my mother-in-law's personality.

Speaking of strength, although 100hp is generally considered the practical limit for longevity in motorcycle drive belts, I
suppose it's possible that by reducing the width by 1/3 you compromised the strength of the belts to where they couldn't
handle half the horsepower, either by destroying the integrity of the weave (as you suggested) or by just reducing by a
significant amount a structure whose strength is dependent on a multiple of its surface area rather than an arithmetic factor.
Hope you're still awake after all that.
Good luck,  j caraway

Rear Chain conversion to Belt:  Many club members have read I installed a Harley-davidson belt on my Shadow by:
l) Turning the teeth off the Vincent drive sprocket, and bolting it to a Harley-Sportster sprocket. I had to grind a minor amount off the case in order to allow the new assembly to fit.
2)On the rear I had a large washer-adaptor made that had one set of holes mating to the Vincent brake drum, the other to my newly narrowed Harley-Sportster sprocket. I cut the belt dwon from an  l l/8" inches to 3/4". Thus far I have pulled up to two stoplights on varying occassions and snapped a belt. Overall, I have broken three belts at about $160 each.

    I am still not sure why the belts simply snap, (after nearly 10,000 trouble free miles) but now since I have to replace much of the bottom end of the machine, I have decided to forego my belt conversion and return to a chain.   I have been told that either a "520" or a 525 O'ring chain can be made to fit if I narrow up the stock Vincent sprockets to fit inside the chain's links.   Does anyone have experience with the O'ring chain modification.?.Which chain should I look for, the 520 or the 525?

    I dearly love the smoothness of the Harley belt, but it now occurs to me that just possibly the belt is sealed in manufacture and when I narrow the unit, I am disturbing the seal. The Harley belts are intertwined with Kevlar, and the strength of this material is literally unbelievable. As I have mentioned in earlier writings, a single strand of Kevlar is strong enough to hoist a full size Harley Twin off the floor.

    At any rate, I'll leave the Harley belt test to another time and return to a chain, but this time I'd likew to run the largest O Ring chain I can, so all suggestions are welcomed.

Best, Carl Hungness  8/06.00

Hi: I installed some heated handlegrips a few years back that I obtained while in England..They were manufactured by the folks who make the Watsonian Sidecar (in Moreton-In_Marsh) close to where my own little shop was in Chipping Campden.As I recall, the wiring instructions were diametrically incorrect, but after some fiddling I had them working  "a treat" as our UK friends like to say.

My problem with the heated grips is similar to most other problems I've had with the bike, (self-made problems that is) inasmuch as I have run ALL my wires inside the handlebars in order to maintain the clean look I really prefer. Consequently, I continually break the connections as not only my throttle side turns, but I had a Twist-Dip to operate the high low beam, and have broken both sides on more than one occassion.

My specific question is, are there any of you out there who are successfully running heated grips? I'm looking for advice, and tech info. I need the grips heated as I have very poor hand circulation due to surgeries on my hands.Has anyone had experience with the BMW heated grips?

I am currently installing a Harley-Buell Turn signal-horn-hi-lo beam module on the left side in place of my great old Twist Dip and want to revamp my heated grips once again.   Carl Hungness

Gas Tank Repair

I had to do it  twice because I did not want to use a proper enough fastener for the distance tube  at the two fastening ears at the rear,  The nut vibrated  off, lost the bolt and the tube and then  more cracks appeared.  This weak spot was warned about in "Know thy beast" and many other places.   Now I have a very carefully measured-up distance tube, a new bolt, serrated discs and a ny-lock nut and no problems.

My tank developed  the first crack (should have been the only one!) after the final new paint job of the tank   - off course! So in my repairs I did not want to destroy the finish either.

Take off the tank and  thoroughly clean the inside with  household dishwashing detergent  and lots of  water.  In the end  I left my tank on the lawn with  the garden hose flushing and flushing.  ( see safety item next message - ed)

In  the crack I cleaned  just approx 10 mm of bare steel on each side of the crack and quickly discovered that this was not the firs time this area  had been repaired,  -both with welding and brazed.  The brazing repair rules out any new welding... (If one welds  close to an area that has remains of bronzes from brazing,  the bronze will have 200 -300 degress lower melting temperatures than the fusing steels and the bronze will flow into the steel weld and alloy.)  The result will be a porous  brittle material that will have to be removed totally.

Use a top degree silver solder melting temp  in the 500-600 degrees C range;  safe for the old brazing and the steel.  If the crack is clearly visibly and wide open, use a  fillet making silver solder.  If  it is a tight crack, use a cappillary type  (a good plumber or model engineer will know). You may find you need both types.  Absolutely do not go for the tin/silver solders of 200-300 degree C range. They are not strong enough..

Clean and clean and clean out the cracks to bare metal;  if possible  with a disk on a Dremel or some jewelers files. Wash with acetone.  Make a jig or a stand  or just a stable holding  for the tank so that the crack is at the uppermost position.  If the crack is long or  you have several cracks you must do this in several separate turns.

Make sure your tank lid is leaking a (vent hole open)  a bit.  Fill the tank totally with water and place it , crack thoroughly cleaned at the top. Some water will seep out  through the tank lid..   I also applied some wet rags of cotton around the spots to  be repaired to help cool down and protect the paintwork.  You won't need these if the tank paintwork is of no importance.

This is "miniature surgery" , very long preparation time.  When all this is prepared properly,  it is just applying some heat and the laws of physics secures a top result -  if you remember to keep it vibrationless afterward.

Apply liberaly the recomended flux  powder, made  into a slurry...

I use a fine tip Oxy acetylene  torch, heat gently; the flux will turn dry,  the water will rumble on the inside; the cloth will hiss on the outside and  the tank will try to squirt  its water as the little air pocket on top expands. (At this stage you will be grateful the the steam coming though the crack is dry water steam and not gas....) The oxy acetylene is needed to be able to quickly heat a bit above of what is needed to melt the silver solder.  Remove the flame tip and the cold water and rags will quickly make the crack  into a "suctioning " crack.  Apply the cappillary silver, reheat and do the next centimeter and in a very short while the crack is  tight.  Clean up, look it over, and if possible fill the remains of the crack with more silver solder to a wide ridge so as to  give it a better contact with the  surrounding steel.

Pressure testing? : -Block off any vent holes, remove  taps, keep the tank filled with water; a pressure gauge in one tap and a  pump connection in the other tap and pump away to what pressure you would want..     Ouch!

I mean a motorcycle petrol tank is not a pressure vessel, never meant  to be,  and any applied pressure might do harm.  I usually just put my mouth to the filler opening and blow to "feel" any leakage.   Much better to apply some oatmeal to an outside cleanned supected area ,  water inside; blow gently and any seepage will show.   More silver solder!

In the end clean off any excess material and repaint, polish up the beautiful black and (almost?) nothing shows.

Per Erik Olsen     5/27/00

  Gas Tank Repair:  One important word on the safety aspect of using Per's instructions:- run the exhaust fumes into it from your car's exhaust - effectively killing the reactive fuel elements, and/or purge it with liquid nitrogen (nick a bottle from your local bar...) - don't need much - a steady hand and a thermos-flask-full will do!!!

 Very well presented set of instructions, especially noting the variance in heat ranges of silver solders - Johnson Matthey Easiflow No.2 is good for this (630') and also available is a matching Easiflow flux... Johnson Matthey are on 0044+ (0)20-8804-8111, address Jeffries Road, Enfield, Middlesex, EN3 7PW...

Silver solder has excellent capilliary creep properties, allied with fair strength, plus it flexes well with the work, whereas welding gives more fracture-prone hard-points (weld prone to being stronger than its surrounding host metals, especially when they've been annealed with thehigher temperatures involved in the process...). Hope this all helps... Tigger. 5/29/00

The orginal transfers were applied by soaking in alcohol or by applying varnish or "Tack"(?)on the back. One of the early Domiracer catalogs gave a good description of the process.
 Problems 1) It is VERY tedious.Once the transfer is in place, its there.
                 2) The transfer is probably worthless. They age and will crack up.
               3)I don't know how clearcoating would affect them. I'd go crazy if I made it through 1&2 to only have it craze when it was cleared.

          Rx. My paint man uses the regular water transfer decals. Some clears will attack them. Every time he gets a technique figured out, the EPA changes the formulas of the clear. Put a decal on the bottom and experiment. Also if you are adept with a paint brush go around paint black over the small border around the transfer. Otherwise there will be a small white border around it. The vinyl "peel and stick" are about one mill thick. They will stand proud once applied and cleared. I guess you could clear it alot. I think the water transfer ones are best. Make sure they are new too. Some of thee old ones seem to deteriorate with age.  Tank covers are cheaper!   The above ramblings are not nesesarily those of a sane mind.  Somer Hooker  4/24/00

These sound like the "Varnish Type" which I used this type on my Shadow in the early '80s.  I found them to be much more difficult to apply than the waterslide types.   The waterslide has two components:  The backing paper and the transfer while the varnish type has three:  The transfer, a tissue covering and finally, the backing paper.  Jeff Clew goes into it in more detail in The Restoration of Vintage and Thoroughbred Motorcycles:

The "nutshell" version of the application procedure involves applying "varnish" (as the adhesive) to the back of the transfer and letting it "touch dry" before removing the thicker backing paper (leaving the tissue in place)and applying to the applying tank.  The tissue paper is left on the transfer after installation and is left there until the transfer dries.  The tissue is then moistened and removed and the remaining tissue adhesive sponged off.

It sounds very easy, but itis not in practice.  The newer waterslides are infinitely easier to apply properly and therefore are more likely to produce a better finisehd product, in my opinion.  Perhaps your friend remembers the
waterslides available in the '70s which were not true reproductions of the original?

Alcohol?  I have used "Spirit fit"  Achilles Wheel transfers.  The mixture is 75% methanol and 25% water.  They tended to wrinkle during drying.  Use waterslides.  Russ Williams  4/24/00

In  Richardsons book: 'A few transfers of the cardboard variety have been supplied in the past.  This type, which is matt gold on one side, is affixed with methylated spirit; this should not be allowed to dry before fitting as in the case of gold size.'

This appears to be the transfer type I have.  Anyone tried these, and what is methylated spirit?   Paul Zell  4/24/00

I insist if possible to get transfers of the old fashionend lacquer (spirit) type. That is because:
They are similar to the original ones as
--they are very much thinner----
-- fascilitates clear laquer coating
-- they stick better  to the  base
-- they seldom(!!?) "boil" when clear coated...

I apply either type in the following manner(short version):

1. Split paper with transfer from cardboard(needed for production and packaging only)
2. Make sure where exactly the transfer is going. Put on  some masking tape pieces as supporting markings to help in the final placement  (=trial runs).
3. Paint the rear of the transfer only (gold size = splendid !!! as this is REAL gold and will have the exact colour and stay that way; and be a perfect match for the  gold size lining to be applied later.... )  Paint with Clear Humbrol hobby paint...  this is clear one step Poly Urethane , will take any clear coat without lifting or "boiling" later....
4. The advantage of this varnish is that it is reasonably slow drying and comes in a handy size box...   :o)
5. When the Humbrol is tacky, place paper  with transfer aided by masking tape in the right spot.  Sorry: Get it right this first time! (therefore the "dummy-runs" and masking tape !!)
6 .Use back of finger nail and "polish out" the transfer and  get it well stuck.
7. Let it dry,  if you have painted another spot with the Humbrol you'll get an idea as to when "tacky" and when all dry.. Backin paper still there.....
8. Make up an egg glass, cup, or a saucer with half  and half water and red spirit(metylated spirit= for use in petrol during winter for removing carburettor icing) or methanol and dab the paper in this solution with a cotton cloth on the backing paper until it is transparent...
9. When the spirit (alcohol) soluble paper-transfer  glue is "liquid", slide the paper backing off and carefully clean  the finished transfer with the rest of the alcohol solution.
10. Finished!

The reason for the paper backing lies in the screenprinting process of making  transfers(decals)..  without the paper and the alchohol solulbe glue, the transfer will have to be much thicker (a separate base) and many more coats of clear will have to be  applied to give a coating  thick enough to be sandend down again for the last all-even-shine...

Sorry for the length of this, but  not many know of the old ways.....Please contact me if this needs clearifying or further arguments..  :o)

PS  I use the same materials for REAL gold  linings...............(no brown "gold" paint)    Per Erik and  F/10/AB/1/17   4/24/00

I bought some large "Oilite" bushes the other day with the intention of machining them to fit the Vin Twin gearbox and clutch applications.  Too many people have had gearbox/clutch seizures with  Phos Bronze in these areas - despite allegedly reasonable clearances on assembly.  Then I recalled a conversation with a chap many years back who reckoed you shouldn't machine Oilite else the tool action closes the pores - and the oiling becomes ineffective.  I can't see the logic of this, surely the action of the shaft would have a similiar effect and render the Oilite just as ineffective - and clearly that isn't the case.  Peter Barker  U.K.
Never use phosphor Bronze anywhere on your Vincent ! Use Aluminum Bronze - Ampco 45 recommended.  For Valve Guides - Trojan, the replacement for Colsibro.  Trevor Southwell  U.K.

Eliminating the Bluing of Exhaust Pipes:  I have personally used the 1500 degree header paint trick on the inside of the pipes with very good results on several of my old bikes.  I have also used a process called ceramic coating, (very similar to powder coating) on pipes with great success. The really interesting thing about this process is how incredibly well the pipes dissipate heat. When the bike is running you can grab the pipe without any problem, even very close to the head.  However, the drawback is that it has to be done on the entire pipe (inside and out) and is only available (as far as I know) in flat black or silver.    Jess 4/11/00

There is another approach to eliminating blue headers,get the mixture right and polish the inside. I remember years ago at the Shadow Lake Rally 77, the late Bob Koontz's Shadow. His pipes were beautiful after riding cross country! He commented that he went into the pipes and cleaned out any little burrs etc. Remember these act as heat sinks. Another friend of mine just
finished a Red Rapide which many of you saw at Daytona. His pipes were also so clean that many would have accused him of cavorting with the devil. He spent alot of time dialing in his carbs and meticiously playing with their settings. This included splitting gaskets to play with float bowl height. Its agood idea to keep a set of old pipes to put on to dial in the carbies. A lot
of work but it can be done.Alot of Brough owners seem to take stainless systems which have a tendecy to turn yellow and chrome them. This seems to leave a nice chrome finish (which is insulated by lots of SS).  Somer Hooker 4/12/00

by John Schultz,  from the New Zealand "NewZ"

 Timing your Vincent with a strobe lightis now possible. It's fun. It's easy, and it's free. Just follow these simple, easy steps. This procedure is intended for distributor models but will work just as well with a magneto with some slight modification (different timing marks on the fibre gear and the addition of a spacer).

 The first thing to do is put the bike on its rear stand.  Next, remove both of the spark plugs.  Remove the crankshaft quill and attach a timing degree wheel to the crankshaft.  Locate top dead center using No. 1 (rear) cylinder. Remove the distributor (or magneto) gear cover. (If you are very nimble, try removing the gear cover without removing the exhaust pipes).  At the bottom of the inspection cavity there is a casting edge that comes very close to the timing gear.  This casting edge will become your
indicator line.  Using No. 1 (rear) cylinder, rotate to its compression stroke, and referencing your degree wheel, locate (by rocking back and fort) until top dead center is attained.  This is your 0 degrees or TDC reference.

 For the next step, you must first remove all oil film from the fibre gear (use brake cleaner or other solvent).  This will allow the marking paint to adhere to the fibre gear.  Using the casting edge as an alignment sight, scribe a line on the fibre gear. Next, enhance the scribed line with white paint, or light coloured fingernail polish.  Now, rotate the motor backward to 50 degrees before TDC.  Then, slowly rotate the motor forward to 40 degrees before TDC.  Scribe a mark on the fibre gear.  Rotate the motor by 4 degrees to 36 degrees before TDC and scribe a mark on the fibre gear.  Next, apply white paint on the scribe marks on the fibre gear for easy identification when using the strobe light.

 The next step is to make an inspection window.  My Vincent has a distributor, so for this, I used quarter inch clear Plexiglas of about 6 x 6 inches which I purchased from the local plastic house.  I used my timing gear cover as a template.  I traced the cover outline onto the Plexiglas and then cut it out.  For those of you with the original magneto, the timing gear inspection window will need a spacer to allow clearance for the auto advance unit.  Cut two plastic windows from your template.  On one of these, cut out the center about 2-1/2" to clear the advance unit.

 After you cut your window/s out, mark your six mounting holes and drill them.  You may have to file the holes a bit to make everything line up, but as with any traditional English vehicle, filing is well know to many mechanics.  Remember, it doesn't have to be very pretty.  It just has to keep oil from spewing all over the hot exhaust pipes, the timing light, and you.  Attach the window using the timing cover screws. Replace the spark plugs and wires.  Remove the crank timing wheel and replace the quill.  Connect the strobe light trigger induction probe to No. 1 rear cylinder and connect the red (+) and black (-) timing light power to a 12 volt power source (battery).  The fibre gear turns half as many revolutions as the crankshaft, or, in other words, for every one revolution of the fibre gear, the motor turns two revolutions.  Because of this, 10 cam degrees = 20 motor  degrees.  Simple hey?

 Timing the engine:  Start the engine.  At idle, the timing should indicate near the TDC mark.  Increase the engine RPMs slowly.  You will see the auto advance begin to engage.  When the motor is turning between 2500 and 3000 RPMs, the advancement should be at full.  Sight down the casting line with the strobe light and observe where the 40 degree mark lines up.  Ideally, the best timing is between 36 and 40 degrees, but will depend on the compression.  Loosen the pinch bolt (distributor). Rotate the distributor to the timing your model requires.  Tighten the pinch bolt, and again recheck the timing in case anything moved.
 You may also want to check the degree of timing for the front cylinder following the same procedure as you did for the rear cylinder.  You might want to use longer marks to indicate that this is for the front cylinder.  Timing the front cylinder will indicate how accurate your ignition cam is.  My own ignition cam was 3 degrees off.  I wanted to have electronic ignition to eliminate the points, and correct my cam timing offset.  I have improvised and installed such a unit on my bike.  I will describe how I accomplished that in my next article.

Research shows that the new Buell Blast bike does indeed utilize a toothed final drive belt that is only 3/4" wide. The tooth pattern is precisely the same as the Sportster and the big V-Twin Harleys. However, the Blast belt is six teeth longer than the Sportster, so even if it is stronger, it won't work.

 As many of you know I fitted a Sportster belt to my Vincent twin a couple of years back and have since broken three belts for varied and sundry reasons I am not really sure of. I believe I had the belt far too tight on one occassion and as reported, after dis-assembly after breaking the last belt I discovered the ESA was in fact "on end". It has been reported that it would be impossible to run the bike with the ESA in this position and not notice the vibration, so possibly the ESA found its position just as I broke the last belt.

 I have now discovered that the pylleys themselves wear after 60,000-80,000 miles and it does no good to just replace a belt (on your big Harley) . There are bikes on the road with 100,000 miles on the belt, but my local dealer has noted that when he replaced the belt on a bike with 60,000 miles on it, it broke the new belt within a couple of thousand miles.

 My pulleys look like they are in good shape, I know the rear wa new, the front was used, but it looks fine (as opposed to a worn one I have just inspected at the Harley shop).

 I am nearing the end of my patience with my belt conversion now, and considering reverting back to a chain.  Carl Hungness

I  make my own felt washers, it is a fairly easy operation which I will describe.

The felt you require is used by medical people and is available from medical suppliers.

Felt is made by pounding wet wool till it forms a matted 'felt' it can be pounded to form many shapes like hats.
Wool does absorb water but it also dries fairly quick with no side effects. It will not absorb water if it is oil, grease or lanolin (as on the sheep's back) soaked.

I cut my felts with a washer cutter with the two blades sharpened by stoning on the outside of the outer blade and the inside of the inner blade the profile of the cutter blades is a rounded tip. The centre of the washer cutter is a sharp point as in a scriber instead of the normal drill point. Hold the sheet of felt on the drill press table with some clamps and wood backing. Revolve the cutter fairly fast 700rpm and with a gentle pressure and facing east you should get washers and be able to make enough to give to your friends when you next ride together.

As to your other problem with the speedo right angle gears. To change from the steel gears to the nylon gear box you will have to change the main frame of the chronometric movement. This is a fairly major undertaking and I would not recommend it as an
exercise for an easy evenings work. The steel gears are abought half the size they should be for the job and I
am afraid to say the right angle drives on the back of some Japanese Speedo's are a much more substantial item and they can be found with a slightly less of 90 degree angle which gives a nicer lay of the speedo cable.

To adapt a Jap gearbox to a chronometric movement is a major undertaking.  The nylon gear box from Smiths can be found on the back of old Rover 2000 and Austin or Morris 1100 (export  model) cars Speedo's and it too is not up to the job the nylon gears soon shed their teeth but of course this expensive gear box can be easily changed for a new one once worn out.

The best and easiest fix should the (steel gear's) box reach the end of its life is to change the main frame of the chronometric movement for a straight drive one and connect a longer speedo cable so that the cable now comes straight out of the back of the speedo and you can finish the job nicely by bending the bracket to lay the speedo down a little. I think the original is
too vertical in any case. It is also recommended that Speedo cable should not go through any less of a radius than 9 inches.
Andrew Rackstraw  4/05/00

 I've been using the nylos seals with no problems for a couple years. I just recently put a set in my latest rebuild and got 4 from Ron Kemp H55/1 for 4.19 pounds each. You may have to remove some shims to install them properly but seem to work fine. I understand the felt absorbs water and retains it very effectively. Certain bearings prefer certain seal sizes so know what you have for bearings when you call for the seals. The bearing numbers like 09074,or 09196 will tell the people selling the seals what size you need.   Mike Hebb

Ed Mellinger asks if anyone else tried the Dick Busby breather modification and I did. I covered my experiences in an article that appeared in the Number 608 MPH VOC publication. I retarded the timing gear two teeth per Dick's instructions, and swear that I had less blow-by, fewer leaks etc.

Neville Higgins, known as the Professor in the VOC for his highly analytical methodology in general, commented about the modification in the same MPH as he saw my story before it was printed, and therefore had an opportunity to comment on it .

 Neville gave us a fine little test to see if our stock breather timing was correct, and I just had opportunity to test mine as I just replaced my cams and lifters. Overall, Neville's formula proved to be spot on for my bike, so I moved my gear train back to its original configuration. I had also modificed my "breather tube" per the Phil Irving suggestion to "widen the slot" . I did so and as expected the wider slot does allow the breather timing to start a few degrees earlier, and close a bit later.

The main point here is not my tube modification, but Neville's timing diagram that shows us where the breather starts to open and starts to close.    In all due respect to Dick Busby and his fine mechanical accomplishments (the Vincent world was lucky to have him ) I am in favor or utilizing Neville's timing diagram to set breather timing on my bike. I'm anxious to try out the system.  Carl Hungness

Carl Hungness" <> ,  Subject: The Vincent Name ,  Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000

Ladies & Gentlemen:    I had an expensive trademark search done a few years back regarding the Vincent name, the other associated names such as Black Shadow, Black Lightning, Black Prince, Comet..etc..

I can tell you there is a Black Shadow bicycle, artist's brushes utilizing the name and so is a musical instrument company. There is a Black Lightning archery bow, Lightning ammunition and hose clamps, and for the Black Knight you'll find bicycles to tobacco. There is a Comet motorcycle and more artist's brushes names Gray Flash and the Buddy L corporation has a Black Shadow toy.

David Matthew Scott Holder holds trademark to the name Vincent (for motorcycle usage) in the United Kingdom. Period.

There is also a rapide bicycle being made by Raleigh Cycle of America.

But if you start looking thru the directories , you'll find Lightning ammunition, animal laxatives, bicycles, carpet, caulk, guitars, hair irons, hose clamps, letter openers, one design of a sailboat, paint brushes, pistols, powerboats, recliners, recording label, sporting oods, tape sealers, wheelchairs, writing instruments. I could go on and on about the other model names as well. Under biscuits for example, you'll find some called "Prince". There is a Dodge automobile called a Shadow as well.

I  for one am just glad there are enough real enthusiast about to supply me with parts for my Shadow. I can call up and order anything from an oil filter to, well, you name it.

Moral to the story: Keep riding them so you'll wear out parts...Sincerely, Carl Hungness 

Sidney Biberman wrote:

     Be wary of blameing one piston or the other for this failure (seizure/holing) as  none are safe or  immune to the occurance , rather it is usually a mixture  setting - and -  or restricted  fuel flow promoting a severely  leal condition . Also high on the list of  causes would be excess  ignition advance .   The flow fault is often as simple as a  clogged  filler cap vent hole or fouled        filter screens on the  fuel taps , or even  not  always opening both taps at sustained and  elevated speeds .

The early original  cork taps are always suspect at  providing sufficient flow for speeds above  60  -  70  MPH   and  never
 for top speed runs .  Larger bore lever taps  and opening  out larger that cap vent is tops  on the list  of  serious Vincent riders as would closely setting ones  ign . timing .  Incorrect  jet sizes , sticky floats  and  inlet manifold  air leakage at the male to   female joint  -  paticularly that last one is  very common on older Vincents and to  never be toleated due to its directly leaning  out of the mixture  strength .  Many pistons have been cooked and eaten -  one after the other after replacement  on the alter of not  correcting the original fault  FIRST !

That reminds me of a time I was riding home on my Vin, one afternoon, in fast traffic, on a single lane in each direction road.
I was running on the left side tap and using the right side tap as reserve. As luck would have it, she started to run dry going over a fairly long bridge. So I pulled out the right tap for reserve. And I mean, I pulled it out! It seems that the stop screw had backed out on me and was no longer doing its job.  So here I was, going up a grade, on a bridge, with no place to pull
over, with my petcock in my throttle hand, as I watched my reserve fuel poring out on my right boot and exhaust pipe, to the sound of my carburettors backfiring from lack of fuel.  To prove the old bromide about God looking out for fools, I was able to
put the the cork carrier back in the petcock on just the second try, (I was wearing winter weight gloves at the time), and still had enough fuel to make it over the bridge and to pull over and empty my boot of the excess fuel it was now holding.

So to my fellow Vincent owners, don't try to top this. Please check those petcocks and think about an upgrade. ( I did, and I also put a little extra $ in the plate, the next Sunday).  Ken Smith   ( Phil. Pa. USA )

HALF A THOUSAND:   Everyone knows half a thousand is 500, but the bike I was riding about nearly 30 years ago had more than one onlooker looking mystified, to say the least.  Perhaps I'd better start from the beginning when Eric Winterbottom was successfully campaigning a single seat racing car with a 1,000 cc Vincent power unit and wanted to switch rapidly from 1,000 to 500, in order to compete in two classes in one day.

The problem when presented to Stevenage was soon solved.  The rear rod, piston, barrel and head was removed and a few necessary bits and pieces added or subtracted, plus a spot of re-balancing and hey presto!, a quick change power unit mounted VIA the identical bolts, brackets, etc.

    With a compression ratio claose [sic] on 14:1, the Lightning specification
single-lunger needed a diet of Methanol/Benzole/petrol, on which it motored
along quite respectably, if not sensationally.  In order to run it in and
check for unseen snags, it was mounted in a standard bicycle using a
non-operative rear head and barrel to provide the UFM rear attachment point.

    Externally it looked like a standard Twin except for the following
omissions: rear carburetter, rear exhaust pipe, rear plug lead.

    First, hod did it go?  Strangely enough it felt exactly like a Twin with
the rear plug lead missing, no carburetter and no exhaust pipe--and sounded
like that too.  Handling was inferior to the Comet and maximum speed was also
down on a similarly tuned standard-type 500, 100 mph only coming with
reluctance.  It was of course heavier than a Comet with more transmission drag
and a much less rigid flywheel assembly.  The bottom half of a Comet is
probably the best in the business, with a tremendous margin of safety (look at
Brian Chapman's 'Mighty Mouse').

    My first contact with the unsuspecting public was whilst thumping along
towards Cambridge at about 80 plus;  I overtook a 998cc side-valve AJS Twin.
Stopping a few miles further on to check for anything loose, etc., the AJS man
stopped to enquire [sic] after my, or my bikes, health.  I replied that my
rear carburetter had fallen off, but I would proceed with one, which I did
without more ado.  I met the same chap some time later when he came to work at
Vincents [sic].  He lost no time there reciting the story of the Vincent
tester who carried on testing the bike even after the carb and, whats [sic]
more, the exhaust had both fallen off!

    The next incident was with a caller at my house one evening, who had
frequently badgered me for a ride on a Twin.  To his surprise, he was actually
asked on this occasion and was soon astride kicking lustily.  A couple of
stalls and he was away, returning 10 minutes later smiling and full of
enthusiasm, not wishing to appear ignorant or ungrateful and having experience
of nothing better than a 350 AJS, plus a long line of less potent devices, he
chose to make no comment--only gazing somewhat blankly at the rear cylinder

    It was at the local motor-cycle club night where he really got the odd
looks, enquiring [sic] if it was possible to run a Vincent Twin without a
carb, exhaust or connected-up plug on one cylinder.

    Finally I connected up the exhaust, fitted a carb and stuck a plug lead on
and rode to a local friendly motor-cycle dealer, complaining of loss of
power.  Still relatively new to many motor-cyclists, a Vincent Twin was always
guaranteed to bring out most of the curious of any motor-cycle shop, this one
being no exception.  Advice and assistance was volunteered from all

    Spark and fuel were checked and found OK.  However, a compression check
soon had eager hands unscrewing plugs, inspection caps, etc.  By which time I
had withdrawn from the hum of activity.  Suddenly an excited voice said 'The
piston's gone'.  'Gone where' said I.  'Damned if I know, I only know it's
bloody gone' came the reply.  'What about the rod, that's gone too!  'Not much
I can do here then, better button it up and I'll get it back to Stevenage'
said I.  'I'm going that way' said the Foreman, 'I'll come with you in case
you pack up completely'.  'Thanks' I said, kicking up and accelerating off.
The Foreman never did catch up with me, although, as he related to his Fitters
on his return: 'My Inter Norton was absolutely flat out for nearly 25 miles,
just imagine how those bloody things must go on two pots--and what a way to
ride a bike with a broken up rod and no piston!'.

    You'll want to know how it went in the car, no doubt.  Winterbottom's
comment:  'Bloody awful, like Half a Thousand!'

Ted Davis

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