Sunday, 28 July 2013

Rebuilding a 1960 Velocette Viper Clubman

Woodwork is having a summer recess while I engage in an older passion, Velocettes. I had a 1956 Venom for many years and foolishly sold it about 15 years ago, which I have always regretted. This is not a late, mid-life crisis (I had that years ago) but the engineering of Velo has always appealed to me and I think the 350cc Viper in Clubman form is a very nice example of the marque.

As only 5000 were ever built and they went bust in 1970, there are not too many around and ebay has helped hike already inflated prices. Eventually I secured one in bits on ebay which was an abandoned project. Actually that suits me as reliability of old British bikes is often reckoned to be the inverse of the number of re-builds and I need to completely strip it to be sure it is all OK.

LEP 722 was last on the road in 1976 and has since been in a lounge (with cream carpet)  in Coventry. If he ever had a wife she was surely long gone!

This is what she looked like then.

Velo's still hold the record for 100mph for 24 hours from a 500cc bike and the 350 almost emulated that achievement some years later. Unlike many modern bikes they have a very low C of G which makes them handle very nicely and as a "quality" example of British motor engineering (when we were good at such things) it is hard to beat. I remember when I was at school you could buy a Thruxton 500 Velo for £400, now selling for £20k if you can find one!

For some inexplicable reason this perfectly serviceable bike was completely stripped down, lots of new part bought but never fitted.

She is shown here "loosely assembled" for the purposes of the pic in ebay

All chains, exhaust, rebored barrel and piston were new with all the rest present but not assembled.

It has never had a modern logbook so I'll need to speak to the DVLA

Speedo showing 40k from new.

First task was getting it all home so I borrowed the works van and cleared out the garage. I needed to achieve a comfortable working height so I decided to use the stand that came with it (from the cream lounge). In order to get it there I needed a hoist so welded a couple of brackets to a convenient RSJ in the garage roof and hoped my welding had improved. I used an old Haltrac maxi-hoist last used to lift out an MGB engine gearbox and overdrive in one lump back in 1978!

Fingers crossed


At least it is all clean

Beautiful bottom end and gearbox

I am now contemplating where to start to achieve a dry build to make sure everything fits and I have all the parts before stripping to send off for stove enamelling. I'll add to this thread as I go along.

Firstly I stripped off all the cycle parts to check the swinging arm and fork legs for wear. The swinging arm looked recently replaced but I fear the line reaming was poor and it was only touching in a couple of places.

I rigged up a dial gauge and found 0.10mm fore and aft on the drive side swinging arm and 0.25mm at half extension on the brake side fork leg reducing to 0.10mm at full bump position. This requires attention and I'll take a look at the bushes and measure the fork stantions for wear before going on. The swinging arm is OK for now but needs some work on the grease channels which were not correctly lined up.

It seems an odd situation re the swinging arm as it must have been renewed just before the bike was taken off the road and stripped.

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