“I’ve been to Paradise but I’ve never been to me”

is a very, very, cheesie song released by Mary MacGregor, Charlene and others.

It’s about living a hedonistic lifestyle but never finding self fulfillment – very deep. Hedonists believe that their sole purpose in life is to maximise pleasure and happiness whilst minimising pain. Full-on hedonism is a bit extreme but I don’t see the harm in some pleasure and that’s what I’ve had with Sir Walter, since we became road legal in April last year.

Wherever we go, young children cheer as we go by (or is it “jeer”), teenagers point and laugh, builder’s mates hang out of transit vans and shout “give us a wheelie”, women often smile (sometimes shaking their head from side to side) and even Jack Russells are happy when they realise this is the first “motorbike” they can out run!

We’ve been stopped by pedestrians jumping into the road to ask, “what’s that?” and brought nostalgic smiles to men who were young in the 50’s and had a Cyclemaster as their first “motorbike”. One motorist even asked to buy Sir Walter, as “it’s exactly what I want for Steam Rally weekends”. Virtually everywhere we go, we strike up conversations with strangers. And we’ve been to quite a few places.

We’ve been on the East to West Adventure –

FROM CRIMDON DENE                            TO TEESDALE

AND HARTSIDE                                     TO WHITEHAVEN

We’ve been High and Low  –

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We’ve been to Castles and Windmills

We’ve been to North America

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and in the words of the song

“We’ve been to PARADISE


and we’ve also been to PITY ME”

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a great year all told. Bring on Hedonism.


115 days to go to the Motogiro D’Italia…

and it’s turned into a full engine rebuild.

I’d hoped to get away with minor bedding-in but the list of issues has grown to the point where I can’t trust anything,

  1. Burning oil due to to non standard O rings being fitted in the wrong place on the valves
  2. Cylinder head gasket leaking oil due to poor head gasket alignment
  3. Overhead Camshaft bearings not running smooth
  4. Cam chain far too tight as cylinder gaskets were too thick (hence cam bearing problem)
  5. Slipping clutch with springs shimmed up and going coil bound
  6. Excess end float on clutch basket causing clutch to rub on Primary cover at one side and clash a little with the drive gear when it thrusts the other other way. (helical gears)
  7. Gearbox input shaft doesn’t turn as smooth as it should, so there could be a bearing issue in the gearbox.

So that made my mind up for me. Full strip and check everything.


And it’s just as well I did. The previous engine builder had a preference for using silicone for gaskets and like most people, used far too much. It then squeezes into the engine and can break away blocking oilways, leading to total engine failure. Not something I want to happen in the middle of Italy…



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!

More thoughts on the warm starting problem…and some science

After furiously pedalling my warm Cyclemaster to get it to start, I found it began to fire as I rolled the throttle to almost closed. So I’m trying to figure out why, as this could lead me to the solution.

Fuelling control on a 2 stroke normally works like this:

  • Pilot jet – controls idle to around 1/4 throttle
  • Slide cutaway – controls 1/8 to around 1/2 throttle
  • Needle and jet – control from 1/4 to 3/4 throttle
  • Main jet – controls from 1/2 to full throttle

Now the Amal 308 carb is a basic item as it doesn’t have a pilot jet and adjusting screw.  And without a pilot jet, fuelling for warm starting can only be controlled by the cutaway and needle jet. So the next step is to understand how the carburettor works and the answer is the “Venturi Effect”.

The Venturi Effect was discovered by an Italian physicist called Giovanni Battista Venturi and it goes like this:

The Venturi effect is the phenomenon that occurs when a fluid that is flowing through a pipe is forced through a narrow section, resulting in a pressure decrease and a velocity increase.

In a carburetor, the pressure decrease creates suction that causes fuel to be sucked into the passing air where it mixes and gets drawn into the engine. When starting a warm engine with a normal carburettor, the fuel would be drawn through the pilot jet and the pilot jet suction port is positioned just behind the front edge of the throttle slide (engine side). This is the narrowest part, so the point where the air is moving the fastest and the point of maximum suction – see diagram below.


However, the Amal 308 doesn’t have a pilot jet, so fuel can only get drawn from the Needle Jet and here, I think, lies the problem; it’s in the wrong position when trying to start a warm engine! The suction just isn’t enough to raise fuel up the Needle Jet Tube, at low air flow.

Also it gets worse if you open the throttle. This increases the area above the needle jet, so the air velocity decreases and the suction decreases to the point where no fuel is drawn into the air – hence it won’t start. If some fuel is drawn up, the engine doesn’t fire as it’s getting too much air and the mixture is too weak to fire, as the throttle slide is up.


However, as you close the throttle, the air flow is restricted, the mixture gets richer and the engine fires.

I believe this may explain the poor warm starting many Cyclemasters suffer.

It also explains why tilting the carburettor to the left helps; it simply lets a little petrol run into the venturi. And you probably noticed in my “kick-start” video that the engine started on idle, i.e. throttle slide almost down to get down to get maximum suction at the needle jet and limited air.

So, to start your warm engine, I suggest:

  1. mark the idle position on the throttle control and set it just above this point,
  2. tilt the bike and engine to left for a few seconds (experiment with angle of tilt and time),
  3. kick-start or pedal the bike.

and hopefully, it’ll start – before you run out of breath!

Good luck, I hope this helps and please let me know your experience.


For those of a scientific mind the Venturi Effect is governed by the Bernoulli principle. And Bernoulli’s principle is why aeroplanes and birds can fly, why a football follows a curved path when kicked with spin and why ships must maintain a minimum distance when they pass in opposite directions. I can explain if anyone wants to know?