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Old 2nd September 2023, 15:34   #1
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Restoring a neglected Royal Enfield Bullet Electra

Bullet Electra Restoration



I thought I should document the process of restoration of my Electra 5s CI.*

Background

I bought the Electra 5s around 2006 as a replacement to the then senior citizen Chetak which was too old and that my Fiero was used by more than one person at home. The reason for going for the Electra 5s was that it had gear shift on the left and I was apprehensive to have two bikes at home with gears on different sides. In hindsight that was a unnecessary decision made in the ignorance of youth. We will come to that later. I also choose disc brake option for "superior" braking ability and electric start because there were choices now for bullets that never was heard of before.*

Anyway 20+ years later and after close to 70k kilometres the Electra was sitting under the covers for several years while a Standard 350 CI took over as favourite. The Std 350 is incomparable to the Electra. I started using the Std 350, because of the relaxed 4 speed gear box and of course the neutral finder magic wand at one's foot.*Biking is hardly of concern now, and most travels happen in the family cars or by public transportation. The bullet however is the only motorcycle I prefer to ride, and it has been so over so many years. More over, due to a mistake in the RTO, when I renewed my DL in 2018, I only received my Car licence and it was missing the two wheeler licence. I never bothered to fix it or get a two wheeler DL as there was no requirement at all.

A few months ago, I felt that I am wasting away the bullets at home, while the world is moving away from petrol. Maybe in another 10 years petrol would not be available any more. I wanted to resume using my bikes again. So I applied for a LL and will soon get my DL for 2 wheeler again , though I am apprehensive about the looks I might get during the DL test at this age.

Of course there is the Standard 350 in pristine condition and always ready to be ridden, but a twinge of conscience bothered me for neglecting the Electra which was standing as always in the front part of the house. It felt as though that a child was looking at me in sadness, and I determined to restore it back to health.


Inspecting the years of damage

I did not bother to attempt to start it, because I knew that with so many years of neglect, it would be wiser to clean and restore everything than damage it further by attempting to get it running as is. So the saga began.

I had to use generous amounts of WD40 to release the nuts that have become rusted to start stripping out the bike. The seat underbelly is badly rusted and it has gone ahead and also rusted parts of the rear mudguard. Without too much difficulty however, I removed the seat and started to remove the tank. The front bolts were easy enough to remove but the rear one was locked solid. After a lot of coaxing, finally the tank was removed. I first emptied the contents of the tank and as expected it has become terribly rusted on the inside. I can see flakes of rust and the petrol that seeped out of the fuel cock was a dirty brown colour. I have no intention of fixing this tank, and I will look for a new red colour tank.

The carburettor was another story. The flanges were easy enough to remove, but the breather box on the side was locked fast and the entire bracket came off in pieces as I wrestled to remove it. It will need replacement as well. After the breather box was out, I managed to remove the carburettor. It was almost impossible to open the carburettor as it was full of dirty gunk which had locked it fast. I had to tap it quite violently with a wooden mallet and finally I was able to open it. It is full of rust flakes that have formed a thick residue and while I think I can get the bowl clean, I doubt that all the internal orifices will be clean enough. Also I have damaged one of the floats while trying to open it, so this is another replacement item.

I am unable to open the spark plug, and I dare not put too much force due to fear of damaging the threads. I will need to come back to this later.

The silencer is badly rusted as well, but it can definitely be salvaged. I like this original silencer, which has a mellow sound than the noisy ones that we seem to find in the market. I will try to retain this as far as possible.

The wiring looks terrible, some of it is frayed, but I will of course need to check that with a multimeter later.

There is also another strange problem. The last person where I had serviced it seems to have spray painted the entire top end in silver paint. The paint has mixed with rust and formed some sort of a very viscous liquid that I am unable to properly clean.

Next immediate steps:

List of parts to replace.

1. Look for a new tank in Red colour and the side boxes as well. One of them has nearly fallen apart.
2. Obtain a good carburettor
3. Get a new seat which is preferably soft.

Inspect further

1. Try to open the valve covers and get all the paint cleaned.
2. Try to open the spark plug without damaging the head.
3. Drain all old oils and inspect the primary chain.

The kick lever moves with no pressure, and there might probably be further damage than meets the eye. I will know as I get further into it.

I will try to document all the steps here so that others may provide friendly advice, or share useful information that might help me get the Electra back in good condition.

The goal is to use the Electra for the annual trip to Kanyakumari which my family does every December. As they all prefer to travel by train, I am planning to go by the Electra come December.


After the initial strip down of the bike
Restoring a neglected Royal Enfield Bullet Electra-whatsapp-image-20230902-10.01.19.jpeg

Last edited by kirans : 8th September 2023 at 09:28.
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Old 8th September 2023, 11:13   #2
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Re: Restoring a neglected Electra 5S CI.

Carburettor



The carburettor seems salvageable, except for the broken float. I have scrubbed away all the grime and sludge. The needle was not going through fully and needs additional cleaning with IPA to allow it to freely move. I replaced the float from an older broken carburettor that I had around. Replaced the O ring, and flange bushes. Cleaned everything thoroughly with fresh petrol. I also used a cycle pump to force air in and get any stuck particles removed. One thing I realised was that it is essential to save salvageable parts as one never knows when they will be useful. The float from an older carb certainly saved money and hassle of buying a new piece. Do take care when spending a lot of time indoors with petrol fumes. Keep the fan on and windows open. I sat in a closed room and had a bad case of acidity the next morning.




Restoring a neglected Royal Enfield Bullet Electra-pxl_20230907_051141769.jpg
All the parts laid out for cleaning.
In case someone is wondering about the fork, it had to be used to drive the float pin out.


Restoring a neglected Royal Enfield Bullet Electra-pxl_20230907_051216100.jpg
Everything looks good after thorough cleaning.


Restoring a neglected Royal Enfield Bullet Electra-pxl_20230907_074919250.mp.jpg
Reassembled and ready for service

Last edited by kirans : 8th September 2023 at 11:43.
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Old 12th September 2023, 10:12   #3
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Re: Restoring a neglected Electra 5S CI.

Oil replacements and inspecting the powerplant

I have drained the clutch case and engine oil and replaced both. Clutch is fine, no need of replacement. The primary chain looks OK on visual inspection but needs some tensioning. Drive chain and sprocket was replaced before the bike was left unused, and they are quite new and just need thorough cleaning. I was concerned about the banjo pipes being clogged and not carrying oil to the rockers. I have opened and inspected them, and ensured that oil is being carried. The tappets are quite tight, and need adjustment once the engine is running again. I have checked the wiring with a multimeter, and barring a few niggles, I was able to retain the existing harness with some fixes with insulating tape and heat shrink tubes.


Inspecting that there is good lubrication to the rockers
Restoring a neglected Royal Enfield Bullet Electra-whatsapp-image-20230909-14.33.05.jpeg

Inspecting the Tappets
Restoring a neglected Royal Enfield Bullet Electra-whatsapp-image-20230909-14.33.17.jpeg


The spark plug was finally removed with generous amounts of wd40, and I have added oil into the chamber so that there is no wear due to lack of lubrication when turning the engine over.


The throttle cable was in very bad state and I have replaced it along with new spark plug as well. The breather pipe, gaskets, inlet hose and air filter are all replaced as it is better to change them when everything has been dismantled.

The issue with the bullets is that there are so many models and variations, that inevitably one ends up buying a non conforming spare. It took two visits before I got all the right spares. Luckily the spares shop is well known and he makes no fuss to exchange parts that are not useful.
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Old 1st October 2023, 12:05   #4
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Re: Restoring a neglected Electra 5S CI.

After a 2 week lull due to other work, I finally got around to putting everything back together. The electricals are OK, barring a few corroded clips that I have replaced. The tank is going to be reused for now, while I wait for the delivery of a new tank. I have thoroughly cleaned the tank to the best possible state and the petrol is reasonably clear upon visual inspection.

The front disc brake is quite spongy and needs to be drained and refilled with fresh brake fluid. The tires can be used as they have lot of life left and since the bike was on the main stand, there is no cracking of the rubbers or other degradation of the tires.

I have replaced the hoses, air filter, spark plug, most gaskets and cleaned and lubed the chain. The primary chain looks fine, although a little slack. The sprocket has lots of life left in it and can run several thousand kilometers for sure.

The bike would not start initially and I had to swap some parts from the Standard to identify the issue. I found that the needle in the carburretor would stick, and with some rework it was free moving.

Replaced the throttle cable, but the decompression mechanism seems completely stuck. I will need to replace the entire assembly. For now, I need to struggle to bring the engine to TDC without decompression. The good thing is that the compression is fairly good.

Here is a capture of the moment when it finally comes back to life, along with its brother whose parts were stolen during the working.



Right now both bikes are in reasonable health and there is still more work to do on the Electra, such as replacing the front shock absorbers which are completely hard as stone, and also to replace the fuel tank with a new one, as I do not want to continue driving it with such a rusted tank. But I am glad that the bike is back to life and for an engine that was neglected for so long, it is surprisingly stable and easily started and idles well. I have not taken it for a longer ride yet until I fix the brakes and the front shock absorbers.



Good to go again!
Restoring a neglected Royal Enfield Bullet Electra-electrarestore2.jpeg


Restoring a neglected Royal Enfield Bullet Electra-electrarestore1.jpeg


But it is a glad feeling to see both bullets back in their element and I will try to take them alternately to work, so that they are in normal running condition. For anyone who has old bullets lying around, believe me, they never die, and all they need is a little bit of TLC and they will be back to life.
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Old 1st October 2023, 12:18   #5
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Re: Restoring a neglected Electra 5S CI.

  • Things Replaced:
    1. Silencer
    2. Tank (To do, awaiting delivery)
    3. Rear brake pads
    4. All hoses and gaskets
    5. All fluids
    6. Seat
    7. LH side box from an old red colour, but not Electra 5s type. (I do not care much about the appearance anyway).
    8. Speedo cable (Though its pretty wild now, probably needs adjustment).

  • Todo:
    1. Decompress mechanism (To do, got the part but was unable to remove existing mechanism)
    2. Front brake bleeding and refill brake fluid.
    3. Front shock absorbers.
    4. HSRP Plate
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Old 2nd October 2023, 06:36   #6
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re: Restoring a neglected Royal Enfield Bullet Electra

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 2nd October 2023, 13:09   #7
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Re: Restoring a neglected Royal Enfield Bullet Electra

Kiran, thanks for the detailed thread of the mechanical works being done! It's fun to work on the simple machines like the Bullet. Few questions, where do you usually buy the spares and for critical repairs, which mechanic in Blr do you go to? We should catch up once my Bullet is restored along with Bhpian funkykar who too is crazy of Bullets.
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Old 2nd October 2023, 13:32   #8
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Re: Restoring a neglected Royal Enfield Bullet Electra

Quote:
Originally Posted by arun1100 View Post
Few questions, where do you usually buy the spares and for critical repairs, which mechanic in Blr do you go to?
Usually the regular maintenance is done at home, when time permits and since I have multiple bikes, I can take my time on each. What I know I have learned from my mentor and guide Mr. Nandan. Regarding spares - I buy spares at Prince Motors (Mathikere) or UK Spares (Behind Santosh Theater in Sheshadripuram) since they are 10 min from home. Usually most spares are well stocked at home itself. Some things I cannot do at home due to lack of tools or simply laziness, and then I can take help of Prince Motors to get those works done.
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Old 4th October 2023, 20:51   #9
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Re: Restoring a neglected Royal Enfield Bullet Electra

Kirans great work in getting this beauty back to life. I had a choice to buy this when I bought my Thunderbird AVL in 2006, except my friend suggested me to go for the AVL engine, and I wanted a cruiser. I currently ride a UCE Thunderbird which is clocking 1,31,000kms on the odo and going strong with one rebore. Rightly said these old bullets never die ! I cannot get one now because of norms in Delhi NCR, that's sad.
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