On giving up and not giving up.
OK. I ended the last chapter with the glee of winning. I knew the win was actually only a partial win – Yes, I had gotten the cylinder block off the motor – which I’d been working at for nearly 4 weeks. But the highs are often followed by lows and a new low was just around the corner.
Pulling the cylinder block allowed me the opportunity to go forward. There was no going forward unless the cylinder block was removed. After nearly four weeks I had gotten to the point where I had gone to bed thinking the end had arrived for the rusty Triumph from Kentucky. I gave up, and this was not the last time I did so. But this time after giving up, I gave it another try and won!
After pulling the cylinder block I began the steps to finish taking the motor apart. On the left side of the motor is the ‘primary case cover’ – this cover covers the chain that runs from the crankshaft to the clutch. You can see in the pictures from the earlier chapters that the rusty Triumph from Kentucky arrived with the primary cover removed – The horror of how rusty the primary drive and clutch was might have been the deciding factor for the person from Kentucky to put the bike on eBay.
Even though the clutch was really rusty, I was able to remove it. Piece by piece. The twelve individual clutch plates did not just fall into my hands like they did when I took apart the 650, no… I had to drill a hole in each one and screw in the pointy end of a body-work slide-hammer and yank them out! Yes they were rusty and therefore trash, but the interestingly developing story is the rusty Triumph from Kentucky didn’t have very many miles on it when it was parked. There was no apparent wear on the clutch plates!
This story of very little wear on the parts, reinforced itself with almost each part I took off. Did the bike fail to start one day and then just get left outside for the next 39 years? I will never know the truth about how it came to rest, but it wasn’t because it was worn out – there is very little wear on the parts of the rusty Triumph from Kentucky.
As I continued to work my way inside the depths of the rusty Triumph from Kentucky’s motor I was again and again surprised how easy it was to take apart. I do not own any ‘Whitworth’ size tools. Old British bikes are not put together with metric size bolts and nuts and they’re not what we use in the usa, either. They’re a little bit different – there’s one nut that’s in between a 13 and 14 mm – it’s also in between a 1/2 inch and a 9/16 inch. It’s Whitworth. I had been able to get around this size mis-match, mostly by using my wife’s ‘Home Helper’ socket set which has 6-point sockets – They’re more forgiving if the fit isn’t just right. But there are some places where special tools are needed.
I bought a ‘clutch puller’ for $40 on eBay, then I bought a $80 cam gear puller – but then I was looking like I’d need to buy even more special tools just to get the motor apart, just to see if it was worth saving.
I’d already bought a $30 special impact socket to get a nut off the front wheel’s brake plate and several other ‘don’t really need this for anything else’ tools and now it was looking like I’d need a few more huge sockets to get the last few big nuts holding the crankshaft. Was I continuing to just throw money away on a useless endeavor?
Plus… a rear wheel, an oil tank, new pistons, cylinder sleeves (I gouged the heck out of them drilling that frozen piston out), electronic ignition, all the bearings, seals and gaskets and God knows what.
Plus… I could not make the transmission shift after I took it out of the motor! Something was binding and I doubted I’d ever figure what the holdup was (never holding one in my hands before) and then… I could not remove the big nut holding the crankshaft gear and that was keeping me from splitting the cases.
Went to bed totally defeated.
I spent the next morning looking on Craigslist for something more manageable – maybe a more modern motorcycle. Maybe a moder-ish Yamaha 650. There were plenty of them! $800 – runs! $1200 – great shape!! That’s it – I give up. I’m buying a Yamaha. (although I wondered… Why does a Yamaha 650 weigh 120 pounds more than a 650 Triumph? Hmm…)
Linda and I went for a walk – exercise, fresh air, a chance to tell her, “I”m buying 3rd motorcycle, but this one will run!” (good luck) As we were walking, and I was warming her up to the idea, I saw something I’d never seen in the two years we’ve lived in Corvallis. A vintage Triumph went cruising past! a vintage Triumph going down our road! I excitedly sputtered… “That.. tha… did you see that?! That was a Triumph!!” Linda (with goddess-knowing smile) said “Maybe that’s a sign you’re supposed to finish the Triumph, and not buy a Yamaha.” I wondered as we walked…
When we got home, I was so tired from our long walk that I fell asleep on the couch. Three hours later I went out to the shop and began fumbling and fondling the transmission parts. Eureka! I figured it out! There was a single pin holding up the works. I found the trouble with the transmission – not only that, but the gears hardly showed any sign of wear…
I turned my attention to the big nut on the crankshaft… While I didn’t have a socket large enough to fit it, I did have a very big crescent wrench… I clamped the motor in my vise, put the crescent wrench on the big nut and gave it some oomph. No go. I looked around and there was a 3 foot long piece of PVC pipe. I extended the length of the crescent wrench and grunting and pushing and pushing and grunting, I moved that nut. I pulled the nut all the way off and within 30 minutes had the whole engine split apart.
Wow. Maybe I can actually get the rusty Triumph from Kentucky to run. Maybe I can turn the rusty Triumph from Kentucky into something like the picture at the top of this page.
I win once again – and more importantly, might not give us so easily next time it gets tough.