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Mar 31, 2011

From the ground up

The very last step in dismantling the Triumph motorcycle engine is removing the sludge tube from the crankshaft. The sludge tube is a repository for sediments in the motor oil that are separated from the fluid by centrifugal force as the engine spins. This thin sheet-metal tube is a real bugger to get out – one method is to wedge a large twist-drill into the opening and turn-while-pulling as shown below in Hughie Hancox’s step-by-step video.

– Hughie pulls the tube out with a twist-drill

I didn’t have a drill large enough for the job (that’s what she said : -) so I went shopping for one. The local pawn shop used to have tools, but now is a guns-only store, which means I’ll never need to visit those friendly folks again. The next stop was Goodwill, but as I was parking there, I remembered the Habitat for Humanity retail shop next door had a lot of used tools, so I went in. They didn’t had the drill bit I was looking for, but they did have a short, 5/8 NF bolt that might do – price? 15 cents.

Arriving home with my nice-priced tool, I discovered it was a bit too large to fit in the hole. I used a bench grinder to take down the beginning threads and with the crankshaft firmly placed in a vice, I pounded and twisted the bolt into the sludge tube. Having it nicely crammed in there, the next step was to pull the bolt and tube from the crank. Trying various pullers to no avail, I hooked the head of the bolt with a claw hammer and like a big nail, used the hammer as a lever and out she came!

– tube with big bolt

The bolt was so forcefully inserted, it left the tube threaded! Hope this won’t be a problem down the road.


Now that this very last step where engine has been completely dismantled and cleaned, it’s time to start putting it back together. After cleaning the sludge tube and oil passages, we will attache the connecting rods with their new bearing shells.

– Crankshaft with con-rods connected


Finding the time to play with some of the new (and new-to-me used) parts I acquired in San Jose, I built a complete working version of the gearbox and tested all four ratios – seems fine – ready to fit.

– Gearbox – Ready for installation

Later today I’ll pick up the rear brake drum from the machine shop and in the next few days the chores will include a trip to the DMV, getting the fork-tube baffles turned to fit in the Ceriani sliders and build a chassis that I can roll up and down the street !


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