I may have a little more work ahead of me – 6 Dec 2022.

You start off by wiping off a drip of oil then end up looking at this.

I needed to get that oil tank off the bike before I could do anything about mending it and, as I said last time, either the engines has to come out or the frame has to be split. I chose the latter. It actually went fairly well.

Seat off first. Discovered why the saddle was sort of “steerable”. It’s been mounted with plates having 8mm holes and therefore an M8 nut and bolt through them to secure the front of the seat to the frame. Trouble is the frame mount is for an M10 bolt.

Next I took off the plate over the battery which turned out (as expected) to be a home made item cut from aluminium. It’s not symmetrical so I might make a replacement when I’m done. The battery could then come out which wasn’t absolutely necessary. It’s tiny.

I disconnected the front brake cable at the drum, then removed the front wheel after securing the bike on my bench so that the rear wheel was held down. The front wheel arrangement is interesting. You remove the nut and washer from the right hand side of the wheel, then the larger (29mm!) nut from the spindle (also on the right side). This actually holds the brake plate to the forks. This allows the spindle to be pulled out. The spacer on the left hand side can then be pivoted out of the way on its bracket rivetted to the fork. I’ve never seen this arrangement before but it means you can’t lose the spacer in the desert sand or wherever you might be. With the spacer swung out of the way the wheel and brake can then be pulled toward the left and out of the right hand fork.

I disconnected all the wiring from the battery area – connections for horn, brake light switch and tail light. Then brought it all forward of the steering head. The clutch cable was disconnected at the clutch end and the decompressor cable at the handlebar end.

Now. The twist grip. It looks like an Amal throttle but isn’t marked. I only had to “crack” one of the handlebar fixing screws and it came off the ‘bars. It was only staying in place because a piece of fine wet and dry paper was between it and the ‘bars. Anyway, disconnecting the throttle cable was easy enough. I’m also aware that the carb end of the cable just rests on the carb top. There’s no adjuster fitted. There is, however, an unused one in the redundant choke cable hole. The choke mechanism has been removed as they often are. It’s another thing to add to the list. The original throttle assembly came with the bike and it’s not beyond me to make a cable or get one made.

The oil lines were disconnected from the tank. There was the feed to the pump from the filter and two returns. One under the front of the tank and one right at the back. That one was a bit tough to get to. I’ve bought a 14mm flare nut spanner for when it has to go back on.

I then unbolted the oil tank from the frame in the hope that it would drop out when the frame is lifted away. Four nuts and bolts which take an 11mm spanner. They should be reduced head M8 nuts and bolts. Both have undersize heads. One has been lost and replaced with an M6 nut and bolt. I’ll probably have to make a replacement.

The bolts holding the front frame section to the rest were slackened then the bench lowered so I would be able to stand over the bike to lift the front end away. I rested the front forks on a wooden box (my garage seat) and some wood, then removed the bolts completely. The bolts either side of the spring box are different so I made a note of what went where.

One last check to make sure nothing was still hooked up. There was – the spark plug lead. This was dealt with and it all came apart. However the oil tank wasn’t left behind. It was stuck in the frame and an absolute pig to remove. I think the sides of the tank had “belled out” a bit and clearance is tight anyway to the filler tube. I didn’t want to hit it with anything as I was frightened it would fall apart if I did.

It took a while, a break for a cuppa but eventually it was out and on the bench. I did squash the sides in a bit with a woodworking clamp which helped.

It’s all a bit cramped in my garage so I put the two frame parts back together and raised the bench again.

I washed out the oil tank as best I could with paraffin and examined the damage to the filter housing. I decided I would solder it up with a little plate of copper over the hole for good measure. I also noticed a pit in the housing not far away so thought it would be best if that was filled as well. The area to be repaired was thoroughly cleaned and the repair made. I’m pleased with how it looks.

I propped the tank up with the oil filter and oil line fitted in such away that the paraffin couldn’t escape, added paraffin and left it overnight. I thought I’d replace the oil filler cap to stop spiders etc climbing in and the thing fell apart in my hand! It’s broken in the past, been glued and that’s now failed. “Good grief!”, I said. Or something like that.

I’m by no means an engineer but I think I’m experienced enough to say the previous owners of this machine weren’t either.

In the morning I found the underside of my repair was wet but had not dripped. I also noticed that there were traces of paraffin higher up on the tank. It seemed damp under the paint. I dried my repair then packed paper towel around the suspect parts and left it again. for another 24 hours. My repair to the oil filter housing stayed dry this time but the paper towel didn’t. Clearly, I’ve got more work on this oil tank ahead of me. I’ll strip the paint and de-rust the rest of the tank. Then I’ll solder up all the suspect areas. It won’t be for a while though as I need more solder and flux which I’ll have to order on-line. I also won’t have much of a chance to get in the workshop for a week or so and then it’ll be Christmas.

This is not good – 27 Nov 22.

I’ve finally finished the work on the BSA to the stage where I could get that off the lifting bench and swap it for the Superalce. It’s really the first chance I’ve had to give it a good examination. As you know, after the first ride the fuel tank gave out and has been repaired. It’s not back on the bike yet as I’ve got no further with it. I thought I’d take a look at the general oily-ness and make a drawing of the non-standard wiring.

The first thing I noticed was that the front wheel rim doesn’t seem to be central in the forks. Hmm… I think it’s been mounted correctly but I have a suspicion that, when the wheel was rebuilt, It was constructed with an incorrect offset. It definitely looks built over toward the brake side. At some stage I can swap the wheels round as they are interchangeable to see if there’s any difference. Of course, they could both have been rebuilt with the same fault. However, I’m not absolutely sure what’s going on here. That will have to wait for now because…

When the fuel tank leaked there was a lot of oil washed off the engine. However there was still plenty lodged on the bike so I set to with a rag wiping things down and looking for leaks. I saw a droplet hanging under the filter housing welded to the bottom of the oil tank. I wiped it off and it returned straight away. I wiped it again and a stream of oil poured out. That really wasn’t supposed to happen!

It really was a gusher! I jammed some paper wipes against it with a block of wood which stemmed the flow and drained the oil from the tank. I wasn’t sure if there’s a drain plug somewhere but I was in a bit of a rush so just disconnected the oil line feeding the pump. Took a long time to drain because the line is narrow and the oil was cold.

It doesn’t look like getting that oil tank out is going to be a quick job. It looks to me that it only comes out once the engine has been removed. The translated manual I have would seem to confirm this. An option might be to remove the front forks and split the frame. Still a of of work. I did wonder if, after removing the front wheel and various other bits, the front of the frame could be swung down using the big bolts at the front as a pivot. A bit like crabbing the frame on a Tonti framed v-twin Guzzi. I’ve given it a bit more thought and I don’t think it can be done. The rocker box on the head gets in the way. At least the torrent of oil has been stopped but I won’t know the true extent of the damage till that tank’s out and on the bench.

After this and my experience with the fuel tank I’m beginning to wonder if there other things on this bike held together by the paint. I always expected to need to do a certain amount of work to the bike but had hoped a lot of it could be done while the bike was in use. It’s not looking that way though. I’m reluctant to say that I bought it from saw-you-coming.com but I’m not happy. Character building. That’s what it is.

While the oil drained I had a poke around the wiring. It’s been converted to 12 volt and I knew there were a number of non-standard components but it all seems fairly straight forward. Of course the ignition is by magneto which means the bikes wiring is very basic. It no longer has the key switch it would have started out with and its replacement looks remarkably like something from Mr Lucas. It will need to have an on/off switch eventually if I’m to fit the GPS speedometer I bought. Without one the speedo will be on all the time draining the battery. I suspect it could be sometime before I can fiddle about with such fripperies as that.

The spark plug is bigger than any I’ve dealt with before. I found a 22mm deep socket will do for a spark plug spanner but I should probably buy the proper job.

Superalce fuel tank repairs – 15 Nov 2022.

Just a quick post to say that I’ve had the fuel tank for my latest acquisition repaired. The bottom of the tank was cut out to allow the repairs and a good clean out of the rust inside. The shape of the tank makes that very difficult to do. It had also been sealed with a liner at some time in its past but it doesn’t look like all the existing rust was able to be removed first. It had lifted off and the fuel/water got behind it. The old liner could be pulled off in sheets.

I wasn’t up to making a good enough job of the welding myself so the tank was entrusted to Chopper Pete who previously did the paint on The Rhino. He did say that, if he couldn’t make a good repair he could make a replacement tank from scratch! While he was at it he replaced one of the fuel tap mounting bosses as the thread had seen better days. Not the messy brazed one in the photo but the other much neater one! The repaired tank has been pressure tested and passed OK.

Anyway, I’ve got the tank back. It needs a final clean out and some paint before being refitted. I’ll probably do a quick temporary paint job for now and get it repainted properly when funds allow. At the moment I’m busy with bits of BSA engine scattered about the workshop in an effort to get that ready for sale.