Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Customer Bike Spotlight: Andy's T140

Andy from up in Canada sent us these pics of his bike build and this great write up, check it out!

I have a bicycle shop here in (Ontario) Canada, and have been wrenching and building all sorts of bicycles for the past couple decades. Having also ridden motorcycle most of my life, I started to really dig older Triumphs over the last 5 or 6 years. After finding The Horse B.C., I started thinking how much fun it would be to try to build something Triumph based here at the bicycle shop, just to see if I could do it. I bought a bone stock OIF Tiger to use as a donor bike, but when I got it home my father-in-law and his buddies told me very directly that it was “too nice to cut”, so I ended up riding around on it for a couple years, learning the ins and outs of vintage Triumph ownership. On went the search for something to start my build with. Finally, after much searching, talking, and bemoaning the lack of suitable project bikes, my father-in-law opened the doors to his cellar, where low and behold there laid (on it’s side) a ’76 T140V engine, complete, but half submerged under the water of a flooded basement, along with forks and a front wheel from a ’68 T100. It was Dec. 30th, my birthday, and this was his Christmas/birthday/get-out-of-my-hair gift to me. My project had begun! Over the course of the next year, I dragged the parts to my shop, and with the help of the Wes White/Four Aces engine rebuild DVD, I stripped the motor, split the cases and rebuilt the motor from the sludge trap up. My crank was stuck in the left side case and had to be removed with a press. I had the crank’s bearing journals inspected and installed new bearings and seals top to bottom, a .040 over bore, new pistons, rings, valves and guides, had the cases media blasted and the head decarbonized and media blasted. I removed the old exhaust lugs and had new alloy flanges welded in. At the same time we welded a broken fin on the jugs, polished all the covers, thoroughly cleaned and rebuilt the carbs, installed new brass “thumb screw” type air and idle adjusters, and added some screened velocity stacks. I rebuilt the transmission, stepped the drive sprocket up 2 teeth and found a primary cover that wasn’t cracked (as bad) and finished everything off with all new gaskets under the side covers and some fresh Brad Penn 20/50 and Bardahl 90wt gear oil.
While I was rebuilding the motor, I took some measurements from my stock Tiger and drew it out on some graph paper. Using my daughter’s protractor set, I modified the drawing to resemble the image I had of the finished bike. A 4” drop, 6” stretch and a few more (10, actually) degrees in the headtube angle brought the drawing closer to what I had in mind, so with drawing in hand, and some example pics I found on the interweb, I mad my way to my friend Grant Schwartz’s to discuss a scratch built frame. Grant owns Schwartz Welding Inc. in Bloomingdale, Ontario, and is a good friend to have in situations like these. He made some additional changes to my drawing and proceeded to bend some tube. I used an old T120 motor with a busted rod and cracked cases to mock up the motor mounts in the newly assembled frame, and found a tank and seat at a swap meet that would suit the rest of the bike. Grant t modified some T.T. pipes I had to fit under the engine and before long we had a good looking mock up. I went on to find a couple Triumph wheels to use, and we had a roller. I then stripped the wheels apart, sanded and polished the hubs, rebuilt the brakes, installed new wheel bearings, had the rims powdercoated and ordered some new stainless spokes to finish them up. Having built more than my share of bicycle wheels, I was confident that I could build myself some nice wheels, and an evening and several beers later, I had a sweet set.

Once the frame was finished and we had mocked up a complete roller, brakes and all, I knocked everything apart and had the frame, forks, and various other linkages and parts powdercoated. I rebuilt the forks with new seals and replaced the previously installed internal spring kit with original external springs. Once the frame was back from powder, it was time for final assembly. It only took a few nights to get it assembled back into a rolling chassis with engine and all. We installed all the controls and peripherals I had collected throughout the year at various swap meets, motorcycle shops and long nights spent on the internet. My buddy Chris spun me up some custom alloy knurled grips to match my TC Bros forward controls, I hooked up the carbs and it was time to paint the tins. I found a super clean late 60’s slim Triumph tank with original and perfectly patina’d Triumph badges and modified an old Japanese front fender to minimally cover my 18” Firestone rear tire, and I had the tins media blasted to bare steel. I sprayed them with a light grey sealing high build primer and sanded them smooth, using spot putty to straighten out any dings I couldn’t reach with a body hammer, and then repeated this process 4 more times. I picked out a sweet candy red over gold tricoat paint, and persuaded my father-in-law to tap into his 50 years of bodywork experience to spray some color for me, and I would take care of the between-coat sanding and taping of the scallops. 1 week and 8 coats later, I had a beautiful set of tins buried in clear. I called in another friend, custom NACAR series helmet painter Don Straus to do a final 2 stage polish with his practiced hand, and I was ready to bolt them up.
A week of wiring, using 5 colors and a diagram I found on Jockey Journal, and I was ready to do a final wiring harness using some vintage look cloth wiring. I picked up a 6 fuse block from princess auto and modified it to fit under my tank. I installed a MK III Boyer, timed it with help from Four Aces’ “Triumph 101” DVD, added some bakelight NGK plug caps and more cloth covered plug wire, and all of a sudden it was Dec. 30th, my birthday. I dragged the finished project over to my father-in-law’s shop around noon on Dec. 30th; I put some gas in the tank, primed my carbs and held my breath. With they key off I gave it 3 or 4 good primer kicks just to get everything pumped through a bit. I switched the ignition to “On” I gave it a kick. On the first kick I got kicked back with compression. On the second kick the bike roared to life with glorious cacophony. With a bit of carb and timing adjustment, I had finished my first custom build.

One week later I had organized a display for our club, the Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group, at the North American Supershow in Toronto, Ontario. It is a 425,000 sq/ft show that is the highlight of winter for us up here in 3 feet of snow. Some friends prodded and prodded until I gave in and entered my bike in the Level 2 (amateur) show class. We had a great weekend manning our booth and talking to the (literally) thousands of people that filed past our booth. I felt great, getting nothing but positive feedback about my bike and some of the details I included in the build. Sunday came all to fast, and before I knew it I was standing at the edge of the stage, listening to the different categories being awarded. Around came the award for Level 2 “Best Triumph”. I waited as they awarded 3rd Place, then 2nd Place, then I unbelievably heard my name being called out for 1st Place, “Best Triumph”. The weekend had ended unbelievably. This brings us to Wednesday, January 12th, 2011, 3 days after one of the greatest weekends of my life.

Well, that’s about it guys. If you made it all the way through this, thanks for reading, and I hope this can motivate/inspire/prod some of you on to jump in and build a bike.

Thanks again,

Andy Cox


Unkl Ian said...

I saw your bike at the show, very cool. Congrats on the award.

beanmachine said...

nice bike, I love that red