I’m approaching first phase completion of what has been an unremarkable, although lengthy, restoration of my airhead. In fact, this is probably the longest rebuild in the history of this forum and is possibly the only thing that distinguishes it from many other restoration projects here.
A little history – I bought the 1973 bike in 1984 and vaguely remember riding it home. It looked like it had been through a war and had obviously seen a rough life in Ontario by the PO who racked up about 87,000 tough kilometers (54,000 miles). He was clearly not mechanically inclined nor was he a big fan of preventative maintenance. In a final leap of faith, he rode the bike from Sudbury to Vancouver, a distance of about 2000 miles, and left it with a buddy who ultimately sold it to me. I think I paid 800 bucks for it.
I immediately dismantled the bike with the intention of rebuilding it back in the 1980s but two marriages, parenthood, a career and a couple of house renovations intervened. By some miracle, the boxes of parts survived mostly intact despite several moves. Every now and then, I would grab a random part and clean, polish, paint or otherwise refurbish it but never with the benefit of an actual shop manual and mostly prior to the invention of the internet (stupid is what stupid does). I stopped short of dismantling the engine but did replace some key gaskets mostly to keep the garage floor clean – the transmission was treated to new gaskets and seals as well. Over time, I began to run out of parts to clean/paint/fix and a year ago realized I could actually start the reassembly process so I dug up the paperwork and transferred the title (I know, I know. . .)
Despite the abuse the bike suffered in the hands of the PO, many of the parts were relatively pristine since it only had about ten years of use. In a sense, the almost three decades it spent disassembled in boxes prevented further deterioration and preserved it in almost a time capsule-like state. In my opinion, these relics are a portal into mid-20th century engineering and should be preserved in their original state or as close to it as possible.
Using almost all original parts on this project turned out to have been a good idea – I’ve been checking the market for used parts and whole bikes from this era and it’s clear to me the old slash fives are becoming highly prized – of course, you already knew that. Too bad I threw out the chrome toaster panels on the gas tank in ’84 (couldn’t possibly understand why anyone would want them back then!) I have had plenty of time to examine each part closely and am often struck by their beauty (yes, I really said that). The factory used slide rules, intuition, imagination and process of elimination to refine their designs – I guess that’s why lots of kids like these old bikes.
Anyway, even though this project could be called a sympathetic restoration, I’m not beyond using non-period parts such as stainless steel mufflers for /6 models just because I got a great deal on them. I’m actually a cheapskate at heart. In fact I shot the frame, tank, fenders, headlight and other parts with black metallic polyurethane paint that has no authentic merit at all. I’m not even going to put the pinstripes back on – I don’t like them and don’t care what the purists say. The next owner can correct these abominations if he is so inclined.
I won’t bore you with details of the rebuild process but will be pleased to share with you the final phases, some of which are proving to be problematic. I’d be grateful for your input so feel free to make recommendations and point out areas where I’ve screwed up – I know you’re a tough crowd and I welcome constructive criticism.
First, a few photos documenting the state of the project then I’ll describe the first puzzle and I think it will entertain you (there will undoubtedly be many more to come). Some of you have already seen some of my photos on Photobucket but this thread will put them into context -
Here's the first puzzle -
When I GENTLY torque the ATU nut, the camshaft tip turns but the crankshaft and valves do not move.
When I turn the crank, the valves function correctly and the camshaft tip turns along with the ATU. The threads on the camshaft tip are fine and I have verified that the tip does, in fact turn while the cam sprocket does not. This would indicate the Woodruff key is possibly sheared but why would the entire camshaft and tip turn when I manually turn the crankshaft? The last time I checked, the camshaft is one piece - unless mine is fractured. If anyone is interested, I will post the next series of photos showing what I found when I removed the duplex chain cover.