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Old 14th April 2012, 21:18   #1
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Default Need some maintenance tips on vintage BRIT Bikes

Dear BHPians,

We all here are so appreciative abt the old British road jewels its time we also need to discuss on maintaining these IRON Jewels as healthy as it could be.

I am experiencing this very frequently that perhaps these bikes at that time of design were made by keeping in mind more long straight roads or for highways- in metros & crowded areas taking these bikes is an extremely hard job, both My BSA M20 & the AJS get hot very quickly (both the vehicles are in top condition) but this is the fact of the BRIT bikes I have been seeing ex the BUllet from i was 3 years old- i just cant forget how hott that gas tank used to get when I used to sit on top of it as a kid (as the Engine passed on heat through out)

I am not expecting a single penny utility from my bikes, but I have a few things in mind.

1) Would using a great OIL lubricant help in controlling the over heating problem?
2) Can any one refer some of the finest lubricants of the world which a 4 stroke vehicle like 350CC & 500CC would be at utmost ease like BSA AJS.
3) Both the BSA & AJS have drop by drop oil leakages- I have not seen a single classic bike that would not have a few drops of oil leak (it would be my ignorance if your vintage bike has no oil leaks) & if this is the case what do u think is the best option to stop it- i am sure replacing the gasket may not solve this.
Any Light on this?????

thx
Rahul
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Old 16th April 2012, 14:07   #2
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Default Re: Need some maintaince tips on vintage BRIT Bikes

Here's two threads you might want to read:

Thread 1 (Norton, BSA & AJS Collection - A Write Up)

Thread 2 (Need some Advice on Restoring Classic Motorcycles (BSA, AJS etc))
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Old 16th April 2012, 14:54   #3
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Default Re: Need some maintaince tips on vintage BRIT Bikes

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Originally Posted by gentlerowdy View Post
Dear BHPians,

3) Both the BSA & AJS have drop by drop oil leakages- I have not seen a single classic bike that would not have a few drops of oil leak (it would be my ignorance if your vintage bike has no oil leaks) & if this is the case what do u think is the best option to stop it- i am sure replacing the gasket may not solve this.
Any Light on this?????

thx
Rahul
there is nothing you can do to stop this. the aluminium on british bikes of that era is porus, you can seal joints with gaskets all you want, ultimately the bike will still leak a little. if you want a leak proof bike, you will have to get a japanese bike.
you should also remember that the M20 was a military machine built during the war, its wasnt built to last as long as they usually do.
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Old 16th April 2012, 14:59   #4
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Default Re: Need some maintaince tips on vintage BRIT Bikes

I read somewhere that one of the features of these bikes is that they stop at regular intervals on the road. This is a built-in safety feature. It is meant to remind the rider that you need to walk back on the route you came from and collect all the nuts and bolts and other such parts that might have fallen off your bike.
Happy thumping :-)
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Old 16th April 2012, 16:06   #5
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Default Re: Need some maintaince tips on vintage BRIT Bikes

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Originally Posted by awini View Post
there is nothing you can do to stop this. the aluminium on british bikes of that era is porus, you can seal joints with gaskets all you want, ultimately the bike will still leak a little. if you want a leak proof bike, you will have to get a japanese bike.
you should also remember that the M20 was a military machine built during the war, its wasnt built to last as long as they usually do.
I dont need a Japanese bike buddy...thanks for your tip
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Old 9th September 2012, 16:14   #6
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Default Re: Need some maintenance tips on vintage BRIT Bikes

The idea that all British bikes are "drippers" is not correct.First of all here in India we are not able to get the correct grade of oil for these bikes.And this has been the state of things from around 1985/86 when the indian oil company's stopped making SAE 50 oil. These old bikes do not run well on multi grade oil and as multi grade oil is much thinner to start with much of it ends up on the road.Secondly no mechanic really takes the time or trouble to correctly clean the mating faces of the engine cases.Nor to correctly torque the case bolts when assembling the engine.All of this contributes to the leaks.
I have owned and repaired many brit bikes and while they are not completely "oil tight" regular cleaning/wiping the engine case bottom with a rag, and correct assembly of the engine when restoring ensures that there is seldom "drips" under the bike, though there is some slight traces of oil to be seen if not cleaned for 3 or 4 days
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Old 10th September 2012, 16:48   #7
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Default Re: Need some maintenance tips on vintage BRIT Bikes

Well SAE 40 and SAE 50 Oil is available for Indistrial use. Infact we get Mobil (805, 1005, 605, 610) and Shell (mysella 40) in SAE 40 grade, but then since this is used in Industrial Natural Gas Engines, it comes in a drum of 208 Liters. I have seen SAE 50 also, but do not remember the brand name as of now.
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Old 10th September 2012, 17:31   #8
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Well SAE 40 and SAE 50 Oil is available for Indistrial use. Infact we get Mobil (805, 1005, 605, 610) and Shell (mysella 40) in SAE 40 grade, but then since this is used in Industrial Natural Gas Engines, it comes in a drum of 208 Liters. I have seen SAE 50 also, but do not remember the brand name as of now.
SAE 40 is available as Mak Gold 40.This is obtainable in most larger oil dealerships.
Tide Water makes and sells SAE 50 as Veedol HDB 50. This [HDB 50] is manufactured mainly for Enfield India and also comes only in 208 liter barrels. I have been told by a friend that Bombay and Delhi has it in smaller packings but have not been able to source any as yet though I have been trying for more than 3 years.I have been in touch with the Veedol dealer in Coimbatore and he had promised to try to obtain 10 or 5 liter containers but so far nothing has come of it despite frequent reminders.
can you please clarify the Mobile oil numbers mentioned in your post [quoted] 805??1005??605??610??

Last edited by Collector : 10th September 2012 at 17:45.
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Old 10th September 2012, 18:44   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Collector
can you please clarify the Mobile oil numbers mentioned in your post [quoted] 805??1005??605??610??
Those are different formulation of oils, and with different ash content for same 40 grade.
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Old 10th September 2012, 21:58   #10
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Default Re: Need some maintenance tips on vintage BRIT Bikes

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can you please clarify the Mobile oil numbers mentioned in your post [quoted] 805??1005??605??610??
There's lots of info on the Internet. Here is one of the many
http://petroliance.com/products.php@..._Products.html
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Old 11th September 2012, 17:22   #11
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Default Re: Need some maintenance tips on vintage BRIT Bikes

Hi Rahul,

First of all great M20 you have there
I am a collector and an avid rider of old brit bikes(including BSA M20). I will definitely second your opinion that these bikes were not meant for today´s stop and go city traffic conditions.
Regarding the heating problem of these bikes my personal experience says the following:
1- its not just only about the oil you use.
2- It also depends on how open the road is where you are riding and how much air does the engine get when you are riding. At an average city traffic speed of 25 - 35 Kmph and lots of stopping on traffic signal your bike is bound to heat up.
3- These bikes were developed for use in colder european countries. Thus we face this problem in Indian climates
4- check the timing of your engine and the setting of your RETIRE/ADVANCE lever of your bike. For a quicker start adjust the lever to entirely advanced and when you have warmed up the engine in gradually adjust it to a medium setting which is between advance and retire. For longer rides you can further retard the engine using the same lever but be aware that excessive retirement of engine setting will lead to missing.
Running the bike on Advnace mode would overheat the bike and eventually lead to halting.
It is sort of a manual fine tunning of the timing and comes with experience
5- For relatively hassel free running use a new age carburator (from a Bullet 350/Rajdoot) This also helps in reducing overheating to some extent. This is mainly because the old Amal carbs do not really get finely tuned because of their age and non availability of parts this leads to poor idealing and you constantly use the throttle as you feel that the eingine would stop.
6- The most important thing - Most of us restore these bike and also overhaul the engine using sleeves or reboring to new pistons and rings do remember that these are not new age bikes - they need to be ridden to adjust to the new overhauling till the time every single component settles in the engine compartment. The excessive friction which leads to overheating in newly rebored engine will subside after the bike has run approximately 1500 -2000 km. Most of us never get to ride these bikes so much until and unless one is using these bikes as daily commutors or riding long distances atleast I dont !! So for liesure riders, they might never be able to experience the ride of a truly "runned in bike".

Regarding perpetual leakages drop by drop: It is absolutely correct that all the old brit bikes are not "drippers" - most of my bikes dont leak it all depends on how they have been kept all these years.

1- Heating is a big cuprit for this too - the metal peices do get expanded due to heat and leaves a little space for oil dribbling - this should stop automatically ones the engine has cooled down to surrounding temperature.
2 - Secondly, we do not get those thick oils anymore as in the olden days, the new age oils do get a little thinner when heated and thus slips out a bit. this should also stop ones the oil has cooled down.
3- The Alluminium or for that sake any industrial metal of those days - refer to the world war era - was nothing compared to today´s quality. In those days the metal supplies were so short that anything which was available was used inspite of high prices(several countries had to subsidise the prices of metals to help millitary machine builders of any sort). Metals tend to get weaker and porous with time, these chambers also sometimes have trapped air bubbles inside(i have seen myself)and thats also a reason why a lot of old mechs dont like to "fiddle" much with them.
4- Facing the two parts on a glass pane would also help (if the condition allows you)
5- You can also try 3M liquid gaskets - I always use it instead of hand made packing(of cork or paper)

Normally these bikes(atleast the ones used in war times) were very low maintenance but with the age they do get their share of problem.Some other small tips which I regularly follow are :
- Always start your bikes(if you are not using them regularly) atleast ones a week. This would ensure that the oil doesnt get settled in the chamber below because if it does get settled there and you start the bike it will through out a lot of oil.
- Always keep them in a dust free and dry area and clean them reqularly.
- Before firing the bike always use the kick 3-4 times to rotate the parts inside the engine compartment.
- Never rev the engine on high RPMs when the bike is in a static positions.
- Check the magnets and dynamos regularly - a weak magnet can give you nightmares in the middle of the road!
- Clean the plugs regularly.
- Never leave the gas tap open when you park the bike even for 5 min - old carbs are not so "open petrol friendly". This might lead to over flow!
- Keep all grease nipples well greased - it is vital!! there are a lot of solid metal moving parts.
- If you wish to park your bike for long period of time use both front and the rear stand - this would save you front tyre from getting deshaped. Also always place a bowl below the chamber. Apply slight coat of vaseline to all chrome plated parts this would avoid rust.
-Always use right tools to maintain your bike. In case of a stuck screw/nut/bolt prefer to use zorrik spray or to heat it up(if possible) and then open instead of getting ready with a hammer - you never now the "soft spots" which these bikes have developed over all these years and you might end up damaging something vital.
- Never use a plastic cover for the bikes always use a cotton custom made covers. Plastic covers tend to arrest moisture and dust for a longer period.
- Always lubricate the control cables regulary - the tend to snap if you are not using a new age PVC coated outer for these cables.
- Always listen to sound of your bike when you start it after several days to point out unwanted sounds from the engine.
- At regular intervals check and tighten the screws, nuts and bolts to the right torque.
- If possible put an extra switch between the main wiring and the "Cut Out" this will ensure that whenever you replace the battery the points in the cut out doesnt stay stuck.

Generally keeping these points in mind and practicing them would keep your bike maintained.

I hope I did not sound like a teacher to you as you already own two gems and might have enough knowledge about all these things.
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Old 11th September 2012, 18:41   #12
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Default Re: Need some maintenance tips on vintage BRIT Bikes

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Originally Posted by damasthebiker View Post
Hi Rahul, First of all great M20 you have there I am a collector and an avid rider of old brit bikes(including BSA M20). I will definitely second your opinion that these bikes were not meant for today´s stop and go city traffic conditions. Regarding the heating problem of these bikes my personal experience says the following:...........................
I believe that there is one more point. Mechanics have a tendency to buff-polish the aluminium blocks and according to my knowledge(I may be wrong) that's a strict no no. What is your experience-comment on that?

Cheers harit
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Old 11th September 2012, 19:16   #13
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Dear Harit, Buffing is OK as long as the condition allows it - most of these bikes are left under severe weather conditions for years and this leads to a lot of corrosion. When I bought my Triumph 3HW it was in similar state the silencer muffler was full of marks(which looked like chicken pox marks) all over it even one side of the chamber was like this. They get be quite deep sometimes and over buffing may lead to holes or eventually material thinner than the required guage. One should actually look at the components very closely before starting any process. I find original spares(taken from discarded old bikes) which cannot even be chromed as the gauge and surface is so poor that any process might ruin it forever.
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Old 6th May 2013, 23:45   #14
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Default Re: Need some maintenance tips on vintage BRIT Bikes

Dear damasthebiker
My goodness such a great reply & my fate I am seeing it today...hats off to you buddy I will probaly have to ready your write up as many times as possible...come on man how did u get so much valuable time to do that- its a superb golden tip...you really make me feel so good & proud to know you-

so where do i get a beer for you at your place or at PUNE? We must meet up some time!!!

Thanks a trillion

Rahul
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