About cyclemasterron

They say people become more like children as they get older and my wife thinks that's what happened to me. I prefer to think that I've gone back to my interests after many years of working for a living. Yes, I've retired! Yes, I have more (spare) time than since I was 4 and started nursery. And yes, I've gone back to tinkering with "things", hence this blog about my Cyclemaster.

NC500 – 500 mile trackday with stunning scenery..

I’d been aware of the North Coast 500 (NC500) for some time but when my son suggested we do it in his MX5, it was one of those offers you just can’t refuse.

Map

For those that don’t know, the NC500 is 500 miles around the northern coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness. It’s been voted the fifth best coastal road trip on the planet and is Scotland’s answer to Route 66.

Ocean views, dramatic mountains, white beaches, picturesque fishing villages and lonely lochs are all visited on route.

And of course, there’s mile after mile of twisting, rising, falling black stuff, or tarmac to you and me, that’s just perfect for a nimble MX5. The route can be completed in as little as 24 hours (crazy people in sports cars), or as long as a fortnight (crazy people in camper vans) but we chose a sensible 4 days. Accommodation is key to route planning, as it can be hard to find away from centres of population, which are few and far between in the North West.

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We started at Inverness Castle on a surprisingly sunny, late August day and headed west to do the circuit in a clockwise direction.

 

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Day one was 150 miles of this

 

 

 

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and this

 

 

 

 

 

with the highest point being Belach na ba on the Applecross peninsular and yes, that’s the road in the background.

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And the next 3 days were pretty much the same. You can google fantastic photos of NC500 so I won’t bore you mine which can be seen here if you wish (not too good due to weather – at least that’s what I’m blaming. Either that or I need a new camera).

NC500 photos

What I will do however, is recommend you add NC500 to your bucket list, near the top – do it in whatever transport you’ve got and you won’t regret it.

And I’ll share my top tips to help you,

  1. Don’t worry about their being too many camper vans. In our experience the vast majority were very considerate and usually let you straight passed at the first passing point.
  2. Don’t make enemies as you go (or grudges) as you keep meeting the same people and may even be in the same B&B. We were, with the Citroen driver we passed in a passing point when a car was coming the other way.
  3. Watch out for Mercedes SLK drivers (or SLGay as they are often called) as they don’t like being overtaken. One tried to keep us behind him (I was driving) but he didn’t succeed and was history after a few twisty bits.
  4. Also watch out for any car that’s gold or beige, as they are often “slightly nervous” drivers. We went to pass one and it wandered in panic, then tried to dive off the road.
  5. Keep alert for cattle grids. I came across one in the middle of a very fast, downhill, left hand sweeper. Fortunately, I was able to straight-line it as nothing was coming the other way but it could have been “nasty”.
  6. Fill up at every petrol station you come across as you can’t be sure when you’ll find the next one and it may be closed – it happened to us in Aviemore as the BP station was closed for refurbishment.
  7. Make sure your brakes are it top condition AND check the inside pads for wear. We only checked the rear outers which were 5mm and the inners ran to metal shortly before we arrived home. Don’t assume they wear evenly.
  8. Don’t forget the midge cream or assume they won’t like your blood group or aftershave; they will. They are so small you can hardly see them but I’m sure they’d be nothing but wings with teeth under a microscope!
  9. The curries at the Lockinver Mission are excellent and great value. Also the “all you can eat” 3 course meal at the “La Taverna” in Aviemore is not to be missed.
  10. Continuing the food theme, if a B&B asks you what you want for cooked breakfast the night before, refuse to tell them. We didn’t and got a warmed up breakfast out of the microwave that was the worst I’ve ever had. I eat everything but drew the line at rubber bacon and wet soggy mushrooms. Probably the best breakfast I’ve ever had (not just on NC500) was at The Old Armoury Guesthouse in Gairloch which is run by really nice lady called Pam.
  11. And finally, the Moray Motor Museum is definitely worth a visit, to complete your motoring extravaganza. It’s in the centre of Elgin which is only a short detour from the route south. The exhibits are of the highest quality and even include a Cyclemaster – but it’s not as good as Sir Walter!

Finally, relax and enjoy the drive. There are no speed cameras and we only saw one policeman. But please do obey the speed limits in build-up areas; there’s no excuse as they use a count-down marker system which works great.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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the search is over and quicker than I thought…

It was probably an omen, when the Facebook post from my last blog selected the MV Agusta as the banner photo. Because that’s what I’ve bought. Not a black and red MV Agusta CSTL (as shown in the last post) but a red 175 Sport Monoalbero “CS57” (as shown below when it arrived home).

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There was only 500 of this model made, so it’s a fairly rare piece of equipment.

Vintage Motorcycle Photographs

However, it’s the last model in a family of MV’s that include the famous 175 CSS, or “Disco Volante” as it became known. This name translates to “Flying Saucer” and was given to the 1954 CSS due to the shape of the petrol tank. Very unusual, very attractive, and one of the most desirable motorcycles ever produced.

My bike shares many parts with the “Disco” and is often called the “Discette” – same engine with lower power and same cycle parts with the exception of the front forks and that tank. Key design features are:

  • Large fin alloy cylinder head.
  • Double hairpin valve springs (reduced moving mass so engine can rev higher – 8k)
  • Single overhead camshaft, chain driven (with adjustable cam timing in the case of the CSS)
  • Alloy rims with full width front brake (aids heat dissipation)
  • Composite tubular and pressed steel frame, with engine as a structural element
  • Sporting set-up with low bars and narrow seat
  • Large 22mm Dellorto carburetor with inlet trumpet – 25mm on CSS.

These features made the MV Agusta CS series the small sports bike to have in the ’50.

Squalo

Racers bought them to compete in the up to 200cc class and Mike Hailwood won his first race on one, at Oulton Park in 1957. The factory race version, right, was given the name “Squalo” which means “Shark” due to the shape of the nose cone – stunning!

MV Agusta were undisputed world leaders in this era, so my CS has a lot to live up to.

The official line is that it needs “light recommissioning” which could be changing the oil to a full re-build; only time will tell. Fortunately, the seller got a bit obsessed with buying spares, (his admission) so the bike comes with a comprehensive set, even including a full engine. For now, I can ony drool over the beautiful design features below.

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My broad plan is to simply “bed-in” all of the work that has been done to the MV over the last 15 years, as it hasn’t been used much in that time. For example it’s been running-in since 2004 when a new barrel liner and high-compression piston were fitted. The first action will be to sort the fuelling as it refused to run at low revs, most likely due to a blocked primary jet from rust in the petrol tank. When I’ve done this, I’ll use “Harvey” a little and decide what needs doing over the winter, in preparation for next years adventures.

Let the fun begin..

 

 

 

This dream came from reading a Classic Bike mag …..

Classic bikethe June 2015 issue to be exact that featured an article on the Motogiro d’Italia.

I’d never heard of it before but riding 1500km around Italy, on 50’s bikes, appeals to me. And of  course there’s pasta as well …..

It’s what’s called a “regularity” which means it’s not a race, as racing on public roads in Italy is banned. What you have to do is start at a given time and place, then arrive at a given destination after covering the distance between the two points at a given average speed. And of course the given average speed is always within the legal speed limits, unless you get delayed of course. And then you have to catch up or get penalties for late arrival, so you ride like a bat out of hell – so to speak.

The Motogiro had its hayday in the 50’s, when the Italian manufacturers used it to prove and then sell, their machines. Motorcycles up to 175cc were very popular and it’s fair to say that the Italian manufacturers were world leaders in small capacity machines at this time. In those days the Motogiro was a high-speed race over a long distance, with special works bikes, ridden by factory racers. It was banned by the Italian government in 1957 in the aftermath of a terrible accident in the Mille Miglia. However, it was successfully relaunched in 1989 as a road time trial and has gone from strength to strength since then.

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There’s also the “Milano Taranto”, an event that covers 1400km over 6 days, from Milan in the north to Taranto on the Mediterannean coast – just on the instep of the boot. Currently, I like the feel of this event better as it’s a linear event with the start and finish at opposite ends of Italy, whereas the Motogiro comprises a series loops mainly in Northern Italy. (hence the word giro, meaning gyration).

However, I have a lot more research to do, if this dream is to ever become reality.

There are several categories in both events, including modern machines but the essence of the event for me, is the Historics – machines of the type that were used in the 50’s.

So, what I need is a Gilera?

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or a Moto Morini?

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or a Ducati? (but I’ve never really liked them)

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or an MV Agusta,

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or a ParilaParilla 175_51

or even a Guzzi.

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What would you buy?

Let the search begin….

 

 

 

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we have lift off – thanks to Bernoulli…

and a few other things as well.

First, there’s the engine de-coke and re-build. Whilst doing this, I opened the exhaust port a little and opened the exhaust port throat a little more, smoothing the flow as best I could. A new crankshaft seal was fitted on the drive side and I took particular care to seal the small gap above the key way slot, in the primary drive sprocket, as some primary compression can be lost here. The little end bush also seemed a little tight, so the bush was gently eased using 1500 grade wet and dry sandpaper.

Second, I’ve flexibly mounted the carburetor. Now I was quite nervous about cutting the inlet manifold as there’s no going back but I did it anyway and fortunately, it worked out quite well.

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The advantages I hope to gain are:

  1. Reduced vibration of the carb that could be causing the float to bounce and flood with petrol; a persistent problem I’ve had,
  2. Reduced heat transfer to the carb from the engine, that I suspect is causing vapour locking , NB: Petrol boils at 95C, however ethanol boils at 78C, so modern fuel are far more prone to this. Sir Walter has always been a bad starter, 10 and 20 minutes after a hot stop.
  3. Increased clearance between the carb and the wheel as the petrol connector nut can touch the wheel, particularly if the wheel bearings are set a little loose. I cut 6mm out of the manifold and left a 3mm gap between the ends.

The finished job looks quite neat, as shown. You’ll see I changed to a different rubber hose as the black one above was too tight. I just hope the clear reinforced hose I used is ethanol proof, or I’ve a breakdown waiting to happen.  I’ve also added some thick black foam rubber around the inlet spigot, so that it’s supported where it goes through the carburetor cover.

Third, I’ve lapped the float needle to the petrol connector using a new method. Previously I’ve spun the needle in a drill whilst holding the petrol connector between my thumb and finger. The problem with this method is the lapped seat may not be axially aligned as it’s done outside the carburetor body. Consequently, it may leak when assembled.

First step is to make a nylon plug on a lathe, that’s a tight slide fit into the float bowl. Also drill a 1.6mm hole in the centre of the plug (on the lathe) to take the float needle, thereby ensuring the 2 diameters are perfectly concentric.

Then fit the petrol connector into the base of the float chamber with its fibre washer and tighten. Next put a dab of fine abrasive paste (Solvol Autosol) on the needle seat and insert it into connector and up through the nylon plug. Finally carefully tighten the chuck of a battery drill onto the exposed tip of the needle and spin it slowly for a minute or so.

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Repeat this, cleaning the needle each time, until a good even seat can be seen on the needle. The beauty of this method is that the new seat is perfectly aligned and shouldn’t (I hope) leak.

 

Fourth, open up the silencer to improve gas flow. This also makes it louder and it’s a scientific fact that something loud goes faster; or so it seems. My silencer is the type that doesn’t come apart (for cleaning), so I simply drilled a 10mm hole in the baffle plate that I could see inside the tailpipe. Yes, crude but effective.

 

So what’s this got to do with Bernoulli? Well in 1738 Daniel Bernoulli published a book called “Hydrodynamica” (great title), in which he detailed some principles of fluid dynamics.

In a nut shell, he stated that, “if a fluid (liquid or gas) increases its speed, then the pressure drops” and this is one of the fundamental reasons that a 2 stroke engine works. As the products of combustion accelerate down the exhaust port, they cause a drop in pressure that sucks the fresh fuel charge into the cylinder. So it follows that the faster the gases exhaust, the lower the pressure, the greater the suck, the more fuel is drawn in and the more power you get – simple. And that’s what I’ve done to improve Sir Walter, (amongst other things) and IT WORKS!

He can now climb steeper hills without LPA, he’s revving out much, much better and he even sounds fast.

PS, Bernoulli’s principle is why aeroplane wings generate lift, a spinning football bends, ships can’t pass close at sea, jetties always have water beneath them and why a F1 car’s areopackage works, amongst many other things.  Where would we be without Hydrodynamica?

 

all is not well…

as Sir Walter has lost what little “get up and go” he had. Now he’s more “slow down and stop”. I always had to use LPA (light pedal assistance) on hills but now I’m doing it on the flat!  He also hasn’t revved out correctly for weeks, even when stationary with the clutch in.

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I’ve tried everything without success, so it’s time for a strip down to see what’s going on.

And the cause became evident very quickly. The Cyclemaster engine is already limited by the exhaust port area, so carbon build-up like this just stops it breathing. If the burnt gases can’t get out then the fresh charge doesn’t get sucked in.

Oddly, the transfer ports were also partially blocked up.

                           EXHAUST PORT                                    TRANSFER PORT

Restrictions like this have a very severe effect on a 2 stroke (negative unfortunately)  as they disrupt scavenging; the effect where the outgoing exhaust gasses suck in the fresh charge. Cyclemaster utilises Schnuerle porting, like the majority of 2 strokes.

Schnuerle porting loop scavenging

The cylinder has a single exhaust port and two transfer ports that are angled backwards. This causes the fresh charge to swirl away from the exhaust port and up towards the spark plug, minimising mixing of the burnt and fresh gases and improving efficiency. You’ll see the exhaust port opens before the transfer ports, when the piston is travelling down, causing the high pressure gases to vent through the exhaust. This flow of hot, expanding gases generates suction behind the flow, that helps draw in the fresh charge – at least when the ports aren’t blocked with carbon. And why have they blocked so quickly in less than 1000 miles?

I’ve added oil to the petrol in the correct ratio of 25:1 (or 4%). The recommended oil in 1952 was SAE30, so I’ve used Coma 2T that’s based on 30 grade mineral oil. It’s Jasco FB rated on ash content, so I expected it to be OK but it’s obviously not. Being positive, the engine hasn’t seized, which is a common problem with the Cyclemaster as they run very hot due to marginal cooling.

So what next?

When re-assembled, I’ll start with semi synthetic (Jasco FD) at 30:1 for a tank or 2, whilst the rings bed in. I’ll then change to fully synthetic at 35:1 and maybe even 40:1 over the cooler months.

And hopefully, Sir Walter will be back to climbing hills again.

I don’t know where this started but I do know where it’s going….

and hopefully, that’s from the East Coast of England to the West Coast, when Sir Walter and I partake in the East to West Adventure.

Or to be exact, from Crimdon Dean (famous North East Holiday resort) to Whitehaven (famous Cumbrian Georgian seaside town), covering a distance of 135 miles and crossing the Pennines with a total climb of 6,666 feet.

However, the build up didn’t go well. Ten days before the event I noticed a broken rear spoke. Oh well, perhaps one broken spoke would be OK? Then Sir Walter started to run weak, wasn’t revving out very well and had less pulling power than the elephant man in a nightclub. And then, when testing different engine setting, I hit a pothole and broke another spoke. So it was engine out, strip down and re-build with just a few days to go. This revealed a broken carburettor casting where it clamps to the inlet spigot (common problem) and I figured it was sliding back off the spigot and leaking air; hence the weak mixture. At this point I must give credit to Pete Stratford and Philip Crowder, who sent me the parts required, at short notice and enabled me to get Sir Walter back together the day before the event – thankyou.

Things were looking good on Day 1 at Crimdon Dean when Sir Walter started first spin, which is quite unusual but it impressed the watching crowd (4 people including my son Christopher). However, It quickly went downhill as the engine was revving even worse and Sir Walter seemed to want to be a plodding 4 stroke rather than a buzzing 2 stroke. Dropping the needle 1 notch helped but anything above half throttle resulted in Sir Walter going even slower. Not good, as a strong 18 mph headwind was forecast for Upper Teesdale. My enthusiasm was further dented when a fellow rider (who shall remain nameless but you know who you are) said I wouldn’t make it to Alston before dark!

 

However, things settled down and Sir Walter was reasonably happy at 5/8 throttle – I know because I’ve added graduated marks to the lever! Soon, I was caught “speeding” through Trimdon but please note, I only pedalled like that for fun and my son certainly found it funny based on the chuckling.

So onwards to Shildon where I tried advancing the timing but it was no better. And then on to Staindrop for lunch, where I tried retarding the timing but still no better. Then on to Egglestone where I tried reducing the points gap but, you guessed, still no better. Time to give up on adjustments and slog up Teesdale. And I did, through some of the best scenery the UK has to offer. Sir Walter was flat out (5/8 throttle) for one and half hours, with “gentle” LPA (light pedal assistance) and it was a delight to spend the time absorbing the wonderful views. This area really is one of the best kept secrets in the UK.

The only downside was the wind. Around Yad Moss, it was getting difficult to make forward progress and I was a little worried I’d get blown off the road and have to spend the night on the moor. However, I knew that support from Martin Wikner was only a phone call away… but I had no signal. And then Alston appeared and it was still light, even at 4:30. Oh yee of little faith, Sir Walter had delivered with a little help from me.

After a quick look around the Hub museum, which is well worth a visit, I then went back down the hill (not the best of planning) to Garrigill to find my B&B and a well earned rest.

The next day started bright and sunny, as Sir Walter posed for an early morning shot.

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Eastview Bed and Breakfast, Garrigill

Now, being the entrant with the smallest engine and slowest vehicle, I decided to get an early start the next day, and head for Hartside an hour earlier than planned. Some would call it cheating but I was getting embarrassing arriving everywhere last. As it turned out I was the third entrant to arrive at Hartside, looking a little like Laurel or is it Hardy. You just can’t get good passer-by photographers these days, or perhaps it’s the subject? Or was I just happy to have made it?

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It was now onwards and downwards, or so I hoped, to Hesket Newmarket in the Northern Lakes. This leg went well despite some surprisingly steep (up) hills that we just managed to climb under power – no walking for me and Walter.

And then dismay, in front of a large crowd at Hesket Newmarket, he wouldn’t start. So I pedal up the street with the choke on. Then pedal back down with the choke off and still no firing. Pause for thought, twiddle a bit (technical term), try again and heh presto away he goes. But it gets better. After a short distance, Sir Walter really starts to rev well and buzz like he should. Until that is, he splutters and stops. Good news is, I’d switched the petrol off during the twiddling phase. Even better news is, it proves the revving problem is flooding of the carburettor. Only dissapointment is that it’s taken me almost 100 miles to realise this and I only did it by accident; so much for being an “Engineer”. But now is not the time for a carb strip, so it’s onwards and upwards to Bassenthwaite where my wife and son are waiting to meet me at the Lakes Distillery.

The final leg is a leisurely run through lovely english countryside into Whitehaven via Cockermouth, where I arrive last as usual but extremely pleased to have completed the Adventure.

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Made it, and aren’t I pleased! So pleased, I even did a burn-out, Cyclemaster style.

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And we finished, albeit last to every checkpoint, including the finish. But as Philip Crowder said, anybody can do the East to West on a moped but I was the only one on a cyclemotor.

So the journey is over. Not just the journey to Whitehaven but the journey back to life for a rusty Cyclemotor that hadn’t ran for 50 years. And there is something special about a Cyclemaster; it’s to do with the way you have to work together, particularly when faced with a hill – you help the engine and it helps you.

Man and machine in perfect harmony, now looking for the next challenge.

Acknowledgments

I must thanks, those who helped me from the EACC. In particular Martin Wikner who drove support and Sharon who both planned the route (with help from Dave Watson) and rode it on her little red Honda. And thanks to Neil Catling for his words of encouragement.

And finally, thanks to my sons for their help: Christopher for getting me to the start, Daniel for getting me home from Whitehaven and Michael for looking after Mam and driving her to the Lakes Distillery to laugh at me.

 

a new record… and it’s broken again

Sir Walter phut phut, that is.

I say broken again but since making him legal, he’s done over 100 miles without serious problem. Not exactly JD Power top 10 performance but not bad for a 65 year old relic of the 1950’s. “Shake down testing” is the way I look at it. In preparation that is, for the Coast to Coast in June, over 2 days, East to West against the wind, with an overnight stay (or re-build!) in Alston.

And the testing, or development, has gone quite well. Sir Walter has proved he can climb some fairly severe hills with pedal assistance. And we have plenty of those in North East England, like the one below with Weardale in the background.

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Early on, it became apparent the engine was running very rich as fuel consumption was far short of the reported 240 mpg and the engine had a tendency to “4 stroke”. These small 2 strokes are often called buzz boxes due to the high pitch noise they make and when they 4 stroke, well, they just don’t buzz! Carburetor flooding was the cause and a sticking float needle was the culprit, quickly resolved by cleaning it and lapping the needle seat with Brasso.

As part of the “shakedown”, I found that Sir Walter pulled better with more ignition advance and started easier with a smaller contact breaker gap of 0.012″/0.014″compared to the spec of 0.018″.

Which leads me to the record of .. top speed.

First run, I got 24 mph. Not bad as the rated top speed is 20 to 25 mph. After correcting the fuel level, I got 28.5 mph. Then I achieved 29.5 on a long downhill with a tail wind. There was a “fast” left hander in the middle of the hill, with a sunken manhole cover that I hit. I’d like to say the suspension coped well but Sir Walter doesn’t have any, so it didn’t and I had more shakes than Shane Shakey Burn (BSB hero google him). Great fun.

Final try. After a bit more running in, I found a steeper and straighter hill, complete with left hander but no manhole cover this time. I gave full throttle and he revved out well. I even got down behind the bubble (i.e. headlamp) to improve the aero package. I got to the bottom safely and was hopeful I’d set a new record, when cough, splutter, phut phut … he died.

First thought were, seizure, melted piston and broken rings due to throttling off from high revs and loss of lubricating oil.

But I was wrong. Fortunately, on checking, I found that a screw had came out of the contact breaker assembly and I’d simply lost the points gap and spark. Better still, this is the Endomondo screen shot:

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So I’d hit the magic 0.3ton! A new personal record.

But you’ll notice my AVG. SPEED is low. And that’s because the screw was stuck inside the flywheel on the magnet and I had no puller to get the flywheel off, so I had to pedal home.

No support team for me, as I continue the British obsession for land speed records and tread in the steps of other famous daredevils. But at least Sir Walter and I have our own personal record; for now at least.

 

Michelangelo I’m not..

but as the great man said, “Genius is eternal patience” and that’s what’s needed to paint the Cyclemaster engine cover – patience that is; not genius.

So, after a quick rub down with “wet and dry” sandpaper, it’s on with the primer. I used Rust-oleum  for no other reason than it was cheap. I was unsure whether it was suitable for a cellulose based top coat but decided to find out!

For the top cost, I chose a silver that was close as possible to the original Polychromatic grey, then had it mixed at a local motor factors who supplied in an aerosol for a very reasonable £11. It went on well but dried to a flat finish as I’d got paint without lacquer. I did because cellulose lacquer is not resistant to ethanol and it would most likely lift on the petrol tank.

So the next problem was how to paint the red lines on the embosses and the black on the background of the Cyclemaster badge.

I started with the engine cover and found that a magnifying glass and a mascara brush worked well. Yes it’s the first time I’ve used a mascara brush, even though the result looks like I’m a pro!

The foam pad worked well on the raised embossing as it didn’t wipe down the sides like a brush would. However, the red flashes on the petrol tank and carb cover are different as the embosses aren’t flat topped – they are V shaped. So the first job was to mark the lines and I used my vernier set at 4.5mm to make some very small scratches. I then applied 6mm wide masking tape to form the straight sides. Now, the curved ends were a problem and I came up with what I think is a nifty solution; I used a hole punch to make a semi circle on pieces of masking tape.

These were then positioned to close the ends of each flash and the flash painted with a fine brush.

I removed the tape before the paint was dry, to prevent it from bleeding under the tape. Some “experts” recommend leaving it until the paint is dry but I was also concerned the tape may then pull the red off.

The final detailing job, was the black background to “Cyclemaster”. This was a really delicate job that I did with the smallest brush I could find. For some of the detailing around “MADE IN ENGLAND” I used the old cocktail stick trick; for example to apply the dot to the A’s – not easy.

TIP Boyes has a good supply of paints, brushes and masking tape etc.

The final job was lacquering and the big problem here is that it needs to be ethanol proof. The best lacquer for this is two pack and I found an aerosol called Pro2KClear made by Capella Solutions Group. It has a clever little ring pull on the bottom that releases the isocyanate into the paint to start the curing process. This worked really well, the lacquer went on easily and the results speak for themselves.

So far the lacquer looks very durable – scratch resistant and not yet affected by petrol spills.

However, as I said, “I’m no Michelangelo”. But a Cyclemaster is no Sistine Chapel and I’m as happy with the result as the Pope is with his ceiling – job done.

PS TIP Don’t use Humbrol Enamel for the highlights as it wrinkled a little when the lacquer was applied. At one point I thought it was going to have to start again. However it dried OK and the wrinkles can only be seen when examined closely which won’t be a problem when I zoom past at at least 20mph!

It’s all about the chemistry…

but not the emotional type. The chemical type, as used to unblock the exhaust and restore the corroded petrol tank and on my Cyclemaster.

NOTE: THIS BLOG INVOLVES USING SOME VERY AGGRESSIVE CHEMICALS, SO PERSONAL PROTECTION EQUIPMENT SHOULD BE USED, FOR EXAMPLE, RUBBER GLOVES, GOGGLES, FACE MASK ETC.

READ THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE CHEMICALS AND FOLLOW THEM. ALSO DOWNLOAD THE MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEET (MSDS) FOR EACH CHEMICAL AND COMPLY WITH IT – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

First the blocked exhaust.

Apart from cutting the exhaust open, scrapping the carbon out and then welding it back up, there are two, frequently used, methods. The one I’m not prepared to try, involves pointing  an oxy-acetylene welding torch down the exhaust until the carbon is burning, then turning the acetylene off, so the oxygen feeds the burning carbon – a bit like a blast furnace. They say don’t worry about it glowing red and smoke bellowing out? And that it will self extinguish when the carbon has been burnt. But that sounds a risk to far, so it’s the second method for me.

Simply get some caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) from your local hardware store (Wilko in my case) and fill the exhaust with it.

NOTE: Caustic Soda is an aggressive chemical, so rubber gloves (marigolds) and eye protection must be used – as a minimum.

I mixed the caustic soda quite strong, with reasonably warm water (not boiling) and left my exhaust in an old plastic bucket overnight, with bungs in each end. The carbon softens and comes out a black gunge when you rinse it with the hosepipe. I did mine 3 times and the last time there was no gunge, just brown water.

Take extreme care, as the caustic soda reacts with aluminium and can stain chrome – not an issue on the CM. This method was quite simple and worked for me as the exhaust has a nice crisp “pop” now; a sure sign it’s free flowing.

Second, the rusty petrol tank.

My Cyclemaster tank had been stood for so many years, the petrol had crystallised at the top and turned to black rusty gunge at the bottom. I tried various cleaners that all helped a little but bits of rust were still getting into the carb. I hope to do some long distance rides and don’t  want to risk a breakdown due to blocked main jet, so the tank must be cleaned and treated.

This is what it looks like inside and it’s worse further back in the lower section.

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The method I’m using is to “treat” the inside of the tank with Phosphoric acid. It acts as a rust converter, not remover. The rust is iron oxide and the phosphoric acid converts it to ferric phosphate which is soluble in water so can be washed off – in theory, so let’s see if it works. The acid also etches the steel, leaving a grey surface appearance and increasing the rust resistance.

Remember, use personal protective equipment, as you are working with a strong acid.

My supply of Phosphoric acid came in the form of a ph adjuster used in horticulture, from ebay. It’s 81% concentrated and I bought a 250ml bottle, so that’s 200 ml of acid. The CM petrol tank is small at 2 1/2 pints which is approx 1.5 litres and I used all of the pH Down, so my mix ratio is 7.5:1.

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The fuel tap and integral filter were removed and the hole bunged with Gaffa tape as I’d read on the internet that this would work. It’s important to add the acid to water, rather than the other way round, then top the tank up to the brim.

I then placed the  Tank in an old plastic bucket and gave it shake every few minutes. It was during shaking that I noticed the garage floor fizzing, like an Alka Seltzer in water, as the Gaffa tape was coming off! SO DON’T USE GAFFA TAPE. Do the safe thing and find a bolt that fits the hole and screw it in securely. Fortunately, I had the hose pipe ready so I gave the floor a good wash down, including washing it Baking Soda to neutralize the acid.

After 20 to 30 minutes I removed the acid, gave it a rinse with the hose pipe for another 15 mins, then rinsed it with a baking soda solution. And this is the result:

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The next step is to thoroughly dry the tank and I used a heat gun to do this. When your are 100% sure it’s dry, give it a spray inside with WD40 or simlar.

Side by side, you can see the improvement is massive – job done, or not quite…

I say not quite, as unfortunately the acid has affected the outside of the tank.

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It just goes to prove, you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet, as I’d read that Phosphoric acid has no affect on paint – wrong! Perhaps I made the acid too strong? Or perhaps the original Polychromatic paint isn’t resistant to acid?

Anyway, I was unsure whether to paint the tank but that’s now been resolved for me.

So the next blog will be my experience on painting the tank and the other parts. Oh and adding those difficult red lines…

eat your heart out Mr Bluemels…

that’s Mr Bluemels of the world famous Bluemels Brothers Ltd. – manufacturer of automotive accessories and more importantly, number plates!

For most of the 20th century there was one motor accessory manufacturer whose name stood for top quality British Engineering and that company was Bluemel Bros Ltd.. Founded in 1860, at one time they manufactured a huge range of superb quality products including OEM steering wheels, auto lamps, cycle lamps and accessories for grand touring cars. They were one of the few regular suppliers to the bespoke coach builders of the 20’s & 30’s, catering to the likes of Rolls Royce & Bentley. As the coach built motor business shrank with the introduction of serious mass production in the 50’s, so Bluemel’s business evolved and by 1961, their portfolio included auto, bicycle, and motorcycle accessories, plastic moldings, dials, and number plates.

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However, by 1983 the company faced insolvency. And like so many great British companies they folded. Worse still the name lives on in the guise of SKS Bluemel – a German bicycle mudguard manufacturer – how sad. And so typical of many other great British companies.

So, it’s down to me to make the rear number plate for my Cyclemaster. I doubt I can do it as well as the Bluemels Brothers but I’ll give it a try. The first thing I need is some material and I’ve “acquired” some 18 SWG mild steel sheet and some aluminium sheet. Applying the Colin Chapman principle, the ali would be better as it’s lighter and more suited to my puny engine and equally puny legs!. However, I’d prefer to weld the mounting brackets in place, rather than have unsightly bolt heads showing, so the steel it is; and I’ll just have to work on the legs.

So after cutting the required size, I scribe a line 5mm from the edge to form a “safety edge” (bent back, in other words). The line is positioned in the vice and the blank bent back using a rubber mallet to avoid denting the plate.

Each side is bent back to within 25mm of the corners. I then cut  a suitable radius on each corner with tin snips and formed each corner back, using an old socket.

I left a tab in the centre of the top edge for a rear light. Now, to keep the boys in blue happy, it should really have a clear area on the lens to illuminate the number plate and comply with the Road Traffic Acts. However, I’m a risk taker (and a cheapskate), so I’m just using the Raleigh rear light. My plead for leniency would go like this, “Being practical officer this autocycle doesn’t go any faster than a bicycle. So if you want to record my registration number, in the dark, just walk alongside (or jog if I’m going downhill) and ask me”.

Now I need mounting brackets; one at the bottom with a single bolt fixing i think and one slightly above the middle with two bolt fixing. Bottom bracket first. I cut a strip of steel then formed it into a U shape as shown below, using a suitable screwdriver as a former.

I then turned it over in the vice to close it up, then squeezed it back on itself.

After drilling and filing to smooth the edges and clean it up, the finished bracket looks like this. Ready for welding, once I’ve made the top bracket.

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Which is a bit more difficult, as I’d like it to follow the form of the mudguard. I started by bending a strip of steel around suitable formers by hand – my bike stand and a screwdriver in this case – see below.

However, my rear mudguard has a raised centre section so the bracket needs a relief groove to clear it. I formed this, using the vice (again) and a screwdriver (again) and a hammer .

and it turned out fairly well. Not perfect but the shape can be carefully improved by using (you’ve guessed) a hammer.

I just need to cut and bend back the tabs and it’s ready for welding onto the plate. To get the angle and length of the right, I used the well tried method of cutting a piece of cardboard as a template – easy to cut to get it right then use it to mark the metal.

Now welding is a bit like brick laying. You don’t need a degree in engineering, you just need years of practice and more practice. I wasn’t a bad oxy acetylene welder in my day but that was in the 70’s. And when I say “my day”, I mean ONE day! So, first thing is to set up the MIG in the “welding bay”.

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I’d love to say the weld below was my first attempt but it wasn’t. “Pigeon droppings” is an apt description of the test welds but it did come together eventually – unfortunately on the last one.

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And after priming and painting, this is the result.

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The last job is to fix the self adhesive alphanumerics and this can be difficult as you only get one chance. The method I used was to apply masking tape as a base line to get them level. I marked the tape with the position of each alphanumeric, leaving me with the task of making sure they were straight.

And now the final steps of drilling, fitting and standing back and admiring.

but the Bluemels Brothers would have nothing to worry about, had they survived.

and finally, some Bluemels adverts from Graces guide,

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Im19250306MCT-Blue

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and the last one is a gem.

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I particularly like the bit, “a junior member of staff (male or female) can handle the simple assembly procedure.” In other words, so simple a female can do it – sexism hadn’t yet been invented, just practiced!

And look at the name of the Sales Executive…..