Recommissioning a 1969 Triumph T100C

Now then, I’ve pulled this across from the old blog to make sure it doesn’t get lost.

 

Recommissioning a 1969 Triumph T100C

Bonfire of the Anoraks

INTRODUCTION

This tale has been compiled and prepared by an individual owner wishing to express thanks having bought and carried out basic maintenance and repair work on a Triumph 500cc of unit construction subsequent to engine No. H57083.

Gentle Reader, allow me to introduce the motorcycle I have wanted since before I could lawfully ride the Queen’s Highway. This is a green, high-pipe 500 twin, by Meriden.

Its frame and engine numbers were stamped on the sixteenth of January 1969 and on the twenty-second of that month the bike was despatched to Triumph Corporation, Towson, Baltimore 4 MD, USA. The order number was 907 and the invoice number was FMMC109. This is an East Coast model.

Thereafter details are a little scant but it is or appears to be established that Mr Miller of Stockbridge, Michigan acquired the 490cc pushrod twin on 2/4/86 and signed it over to College Bike Shop, Lansing on 7/5/86, Odometer Mileage 15,547. Lansing is the capital of Michigan and The College Bike Shop was founded in 1944 in East Lansing by Vaughan and Billie Vandecar.

They first sold motor bicycles in 1956. In 1969, the shop discontinued bicycle sales in order to focus on the growing demand for motorcycles, four-wheelers and dirt bikes and in 1980 ownership of the shop passed from the Vandecar family to long-term employee, Doug Sears.

On 12/3/91 Doug Sears reassigned the vehicle to D&A Motorcycle Salvage of Decatur, Indiana. It appears D & A Motorcycle Salvage is still trading at 3919 N Salem Rd, Decatur, telephone 724-7055. Anyway those are the first and last stops on my little bike’s transatlantic adventure, and some of the bits in between.

Somewhere over there it had a rebore, was painted Peacock Blue and was generally ridden hard and put away wet.

On 2/12/91 Cyril George Chell of C.G.Chell Motorcycles of Stafford certified that car tax due on my beautiful Trumpet had been or would be paid. So, She Who Must Be Overhauled was back in Blighty after a twenty-two year sojourn in the Home of the Brave. C.G. Chell Motorcycles Ltd now deals in Royal Enfields apparently. Royal Enfields are now made in India.

Poignant that these smaller businesses which each played a role in the bike’s early life are still in business while the factory which shaped the metal and the dreams has been demolished to make way for a housing development – Daytona Drive and Bonneville Close, I went there just to check back in the nineties.

Sometime later Jim Pogson then of East Bridgford, Nottingham (from whom more directly) took the brave bolide to his shed and on 24/2/94 Roy Shilling, Machine Registrar, Triumph Owners Motorcycle Club confirmed by letter that T100C AC09### was a true Meriden machine of January 1969, a T100C Trophy Competition and that there were three T100Cs registered with the TOMCC at present. Roy Shilling also noted that the model was made from 1968 to 1972.

Then I spotted the bike on eBay and this happened

AC09### – The Seller’s Tale by Jim Pogson

In the late 1980’s I renovated several 1960’s Triumphs re-imported from the USA. These were mostly non-runners which made rewarding projects. Our American cousins seemed to have spent more time on light customisation than on maintenance. Luckily, they generally lost interest in the bike before clocking enough miles to do serious damage. In contrast, UK bikes often appeared to have been run into the ground by owners who regularly serviced them using chisels and lump hammers!

One of the final re-imports I acquired was a 1969 T100C 500cc twin. Something in the quirky specification of this supposed off-road model appealed to me. The one I bought had typical cosmetic tweaks: a repaint and sawn-off drag pipes instead of the original high level exhaust with “chip basket” heatshield.

Fast forward 15 years and life has moved on. I still own Triumphs, but not so many miles go under their wheels and some are visibly deteriorating. I resolve [not for the first time] to sort things out in the bikeshed.

My eye falls on the T100C. Untouched since purchase, it has moved house with me and sat patiently awaiting attention. I have never even put petrol in the tank! Rational thought tells me that this project will never happen. There are higher priorities on my time – including a T150T Trident I last taxed for the road in 1992. The T100C becomes an acid test of my resolve to sort out my motorcycling life. It must be humanely despatched for the benefit of its stablemates.

I wheel the machine out for a closer look. It’s still a promising project. Dirtier and furrier than on previous acquaintance, but everything rotates, cranks or slides as appropriate. There are a few minor battle scars, but nothing is seized or smashed. How should I approach a sale? I’ve previously disposed of some spare parts through ebay. The classic motorcyclists in that community seem a good bunch. For the first time I’ll try selling a vehicle through ebay. I truly don’t know the internal condition of the T100C – I never did 15 years ago – so auction seems an appropriate way to sell.

I whack in a 10 day listing, supported by a photo pack showing the T100C from all angles. The number of people watching my listing rockets, but bidding is slow. I’m surprised how little contact I receive from either watchers or bidders.

I enjoy a series of e-mails with Bob. He is concerned that the bike may not have the late crankshaft and timing side main bearing which my sales pitch describes. Weren’t these improvements introduced at the same time that the crankshaft breather was upgraded from the rotary style on my machine? To reassure him, I quote the 1969 factory parts catalogue and a reference from Triumph guru John Nelson. He bats back a contradictory reference from Triumph guru Harry Wooldridge. Then, at the eleventh hour, Bob writes to say we should both look at the bike instead of the books. In the photos he can see the oil pressure switch and timing cover blip which clearly indicate an end-feed crankshaft!

Bidding closes with a final flurry. The winner scrapes in on auto bid, beating “snipers” in the closing seconds – but by less than one auto bid increment. He is someone I had spoken to on the telephone, but who was unable to travel to view. We converse by e-mail and make arrangements for collection of the T100C.

The following Sunday my buyer arrives with a rented van. I hope and believe he will not be disappointed with his purchase. He accepts the offer of coffee and we stand in the kitchen discussing geese and chickens, Cornwall, herbs in the garden, etc., etc.. I guess he’s assessing whether I’m a reasonable person with whom to do business. When I eventually suggest we view the T100C, he appears very pleased and soon hands me the stipulated wad of folding money. From there, he will tell you his own tale.

In retrospect, I consider the whole experience a reasonable result:

  • · I completed a sale pretty quickly from start to finish, without having to invest too much time overall.
  • · I achieved a price I considered reasonable in the circumstances. Not top dollar, but recognising some degree of risk as to the engine internals.
  • · The buyer picked up a good project at a fair price. Judging by restored T100C’s recently for sale, he could turn an attractive profit if he can find time which I can’t.

My story may seem very matter of fact, but I enjoy classic vehicles without becoming sentimental about them. No bike of mine ever had a name! I do hope this episode will generate a few more classic miles. I can focus on getting another machine on the road, whilst the buyer progresses the T100C. Using classic bikes is surely what our hobby is all about!

Jim Pogson – Real Classic Club Member 1053

So there we are, on 14/5/06 I finally got the bike that was coming home to me all these years, and from a fellow Real Classicist. Nice. I’ve no idea who Bob is though.

The odometer reading was 15,742.

GENERAL DATA

The engine in this motorcycle is a 360 degree parallel twin, having a bore and stroke of 2.716” x 2.578” which sweeps 29.8 cubic inches (490 cubic centimetres) as its crankshaft rotates. For ease in conversation it is known as a 500, or even a half litre. But it isn’t. The pistons which travel up and down together compress the fuel/air mixture down by a factor of nine prior to ignition and the capacity of each combustion chamber is 27c.c. (1.66 cu. in.). When there is a big bang in one combustion chamber there is no bang at all in the other combustion chamber. Those clever little camshafts (Inlet E3134 and Exhaust E3225) are instrumental in this and there is a timed crankcase breather on the port end of the inlet camshaft. The breather vents through a spigot by the gearbox sprocket, on later models the crankcase vented through the primary case and thence via flexible tubing to the wider world and/or the oil tank.

The 1969 T100C is fitted with a Wide Ratio gearbox as standard,

this is a defining feature of the model along with the seven inch twin leading shoe front brake,

the late crankshaft and timing side main bearing, six inch headlight,

Amal Concentric Carburettor, nineteen inch front wheel, the friction steering damper, and the folding footrests among other things.

Inconsequentially the sump guard bash plate is missing.

The basic dimensions of this bike are part of its ridden charm – the wheel base at 54” makes for a close-coupled ride and gives an overall length of 83¾” or thereabouts. Ground clearance is around 7¾” which contributes to a comfortable seat height for my 31” inside legged frame.

At an unladen weight of 337 pounds this is a light bike by comparison with, for example, that lumbersome, lusty beast the Mark III Commando which tips the scales at 465.

LUBRICATION SYSTEM

The original two valve oil pump still works well, almost all the oil lines have been replaced, including the breather pipe. Replacing the breather pipe is an easy job once the spigot near the gearbox sprocket (18T) has been found, cleaned and lubricated with silicon grease. Lying the bike on its timing side helps with this process.

Finding 1969 type tubing is elusive, so elusive in fact that no thin wall black tubing of the correct diameters has yet come to light and a selection of modern chunky black pipe, flexible diesel injector priming pipe and windscreen washer pipe currently conducts the lube from place to place.

The oil pressure is fine at 80 lb./sq.in. measured on an ancillary pressure gauge fitted in the timing chest cover in place of the Oil Pressure Switch.

The switch is described as parallel and was only fitted to ’69 models (up till then there was no switch just a threaded pressure check point to take a gauge and after ’69 a different, tapered thread was used.

For many months finding a new Oil Pressure Switch seemed as difficult as finding thin walled oil breather pipe until at the eleventh hour Tri-Cor came up with the right item for 1969, Tri-Cor Part No.: 60-3719A. It is designed to operate by lighting up a red warning lamp in the headlamp shell when the oil pressure is 7-11 lb./sq.in. or below. When properly up to operating temperature the T100C will idle safely with an oil pressure of only 5 lbs./sq.in.. The switch is not an essential item but it’s a likeable one in my view. On the first ride out the oil pressure warning light came on permanently. As oil was visibly returning to the tank in very good measure I rode home gingerly and checked the oil pressure with a borrowed gauge – 80 lb./sq.in.. I rang Andy Gregory at Tri-Cor who straightway offered to send a replacement free of charge.

The oil tank is filled with cheap 20/50 and no additional oil filter has been fitted – I enjoy oil changing and will be doing a lot of it on this my pet particular bike. Greasing the swinging fork bearings is also great fun and easier on this bike than on a T140, this T100 has just one easy to find grease nipple on the starboard side, rather than two hard to find nipples on the T140.

Other forms of lubrication were provided by copper grease for many nuts, screws, studs and bolts. Graphite grease was used on anything threaded in or near the exhaust system. I also dipped in to the CP Grease from Enginewise for those bits and pieces I never expect to undo again on the grounds that you never know…

The grease gun was loaded with a cartridge of Renault Agricultural Grease – ever so French.

ENGINE

With the instruction “strip it and put it back together and don’t try to save my money” the power unit (106lb) was handed over to the local bike shop for dismantling and reassembly (Rob Blake Motorcycles, Plushabridge 01579 362690). Rob fettles just about everything including a local Delage motor car of 1913 vintage and used to race a T100C until it blew up, as did his B50 etcetera, so forth. Rob was SW Centre Moto Cross Champion 1973, British 4 Stroke Champion 1975, 1976 and 1997, and British Pre 65 Champion 1996.

The bores and pistons and rings were perfect at +0.020”, the valves were lapped in and the sludge trap (correctly termed “the oil tube”) needed and got a jolly good cleaning. Intriguingly the big end shells were brand new and the engine had not run since they’d been fitted. Well, Rob Blake found it intriguing.

Torque settings are important and whenever a cylinder gasket has been renewed or changed it is desirable after the engine has been run, to check and if appropriate re-torque the cylinder head fixings. Thus eventually the engine was started, run for twenty minutes and the cylinder head bolts tightened to 18 lb/ft. By gum that felt good.

Setting the tappet clearances is a bit of a chore on these rocker boxes so after-market mushroom-head adjusters were chosen which helps a bit in my experience.

Although tatty the round U.S. type air cleaner was retained precisely for its “lived-in” look and a new filter element sits inside it as it nestles snugly on the brand new Amal Concentric carburettor (designed by Barry Johnson, keen visitor to Cornwall and from a strong motorcycling tradition). I confess to a bijou slough of despond moment when I realised the new throttle cable did not nestle at all snugly in the cable adjuster on top of the new carb. A telephone conversation revealed that Meriden did without this particular adjuster and the standard measure is to drill out the threads in the carb top using a ¼” bit; you learn something every day. I used a 7mm bit, no Concours d’ Elegance award for me then. The carburettor is connected to the fuel taps by ferruled clear pipes from Tri-Cor, these are a great joy and fit perfectly. The fuel taps are original and do not leak, yet.

“Should” is a strong word and not one I use lightly, however this bike should have a two into two high level exhaust with an H shaped connector between the two pipes and their two silencers, not to mention the “chip basket” heat shield.

In fact it has a high level two into one with a solid oval heat shield and a Tiger Cub silencer. The whole system is from Armours of Bournemouth was very easy to fit and the only adjustment needed was shortening the pipe to suit the silencer. A kind neighbour loaned me the biggest rotary cutter I have ever seen and the job was easy after a bit of trial and error.

With the two into one I can easily get into the toolbox, the machine weighs a little less and there’s no chip basket to rust accusingly.

TRANSMISSION

A new primary chain, seven plate clutch conversion and some new clutch springs sorted out the primary side, neatly followed by a new gearbox sprocket (18T), chain and bolt-on wheel sprocket (46T).

There’s lovely, there’s looking after a riding bike.

The single phase Lucas RM19 alternator is still putting out alternating current through its two wires after all these years and a new boot is keeping the rainwater out of the primary case.

With the two into one I can easily get into the toolbox, the machine weighs a little less and there’s no chip basket to rust accusingly.

FRAME AND ATTACHMENT DETAILS

When doing up a clapped out old wreck a lot of people like to finish up with a gleaming better than new look, Honey, I’m not one of those. My preference is for a machine which looks like it’s seen a bit of life. I find this makes it easier to show a bike a bit of gentle action without having to pay undue attention to the weather. It also gets me out of having to rub the bike down with a copy of the Sporting Life and a bottle of Vitalis when I could be sitting in an armchair growing my beard.

However I am a flexible sort of a cove and given the interminable wait for gearbox supplies I allowed my neighbour and lifelong Meridenist, Even-More-Mysterious Richard to advise my on refinishing the distressingly empty engine cradle. It wasn’t too bad really, lots of paraffin, wire brushes, abrasive paper, methylated spirit and eighteen coats of various aerosol paints – most of them black.

They say it’s good to try new things and I’m glad I did, I take great pride in my engine cradle and really did enjoy learning a new trick. I left the dinks and nicks unfilled to retain the character in the bike.

Moving in a rearwardly direction through the frame and attachment details we come to the petrol tank which had a bijou leak topside on the seam just forward of the filler aperture. The tank went off to MPH Motor Panels of Liskeard, for fettling and painting. To keep the fuel tank company I sent the oil tank, toolbox cover and engine plates along as well, mostly because they had been painted that shade of Peacock Blue which I just couldn’t stand. As it happens I had my Yamaha painted the self same colour in 1979 and was very pleased with the result, but as L.P. Hartley has it, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” In 1969 Lincoln Green was the stock colour for the T100C but thanks to the wonders of the Information Superhighway I had found the story of a Stateside 1969 T100C finished in a brighter shade of green at http://members.cox.net/triumpht100c/my_photo_gallery.htm

so I gave the painter, Sylvan, a print out of the picture and chose a Rover car paint called Java and was again very pleased with the result. The oil tank, toolbox cover and engine plates came home in black livery and all was well with the world.

Somewhere in there I was delighted to discover that the rattle from the petrol tank was the very special chain and spring effort which attaches to the filler cap so you don’t drive off from Sorribums’ petrol station without your filler cap. It’s a device peculiar to these bikes and I find it to be deeply annoying in practice so it’s now in deep storage along with the passenger grab rail which bolts to the underside of the seat. As the great Mark Williams once said in Bike magazine on the subject of passenger grab rails “I’ve never found a regular pillion passenger (or even a constipated one) who used a grab rail”.

The rear fork bushes were in serviceable condition but the spindle was blooming with rust so I replaced it without recourse to a service tool.

After a great deal of trial and error Hagon shock absorbers now hold the back end up. Trevor Gleadall of L.P. Williams http://www.triumph-spares.co.uk/ was a model of patience and professionalism proving once again that it is often more cost effective in the long run to buy from a reputable dealer and get proper service. The short version is old fashioned skinny shockers fit this bike but fatter more expensive ones foul the exhaust and the brake rod.

A previous owner had welded up the screw holes for the tank badges. This presented a considerable problem which BSAPhill overcame by gluing the badges (a gift from Rowena and Frank) to the tank using Sikaflex-291 Fastcure Marine Adhesive, Sealing and Bedding Compound then he Super Glued the screw heads into the badges. Excellent, ta. The badges themselves had Humbrol daubed on them by a clumsy owner using a tiny but reassuringly expensive brush.

A word of thanks about that back brake rod to Kevin Dean of Reading, inhabitant of the RealClassic Message Board and general good egg; Kevin gave me the ultra groovy stainless steel item. Thanks also to Rowena and Frank who brought it back to Cornwall for me.

A note about Reading and its poetic history – the county town of Berkshire’s most popular claim to fame is probably Oscar Wilde’s “Ballad of Reading Gaol”. Wilde served his time (1895 – 7) at Reading following a misunderstanding with the eighth (or as some have it ninth) Marquis of Queensbury who accused Wilde of “posing as a somdomite (sic)”.

But many feel that Reading’s greater claim to versifying fame consists in “Summer Is A’ Coming In” one of the earliest examples of English secular music, written in 1240 by a monk of the Reading Abbey a small fragment of which remains in the shadow of the current H.M.P. Reading bearing the a plaque which reads “SVMER IS ICVMENIN”.

Mind you some people think Reading is all Biscuit Men and Courage brewery.

Centre stands are useful things to attach to your frame for jobs like this one and I bought one from TMS which did not fit. They apologised elegantly and candidly then refunded my money as none of their batch of centre stands was right so they’d sent their centre stands back to the manufacturers.

The midriff of the bike is now a mass of fresh and sleekly black rubber bushes which shield the battery carrier and toolbox from vibration. Nice job to do on a frosty morning.

The frame was not checked on a jig to see whether or not it had distorted, but the bike rides very well and passed the MOT first time.

The seat was treated to a bit of a clean and a short piece of black gaffer tape over a tear at the nose. It’s quite comfortable and has done very well considering the bike has obviously seen a bit of use.

There were no keys with the bike and an early job was to get a pair of ignition keys made by long suffering Kawasaki and Triumph Herald restorer Andy Crewe of the Cornish Key Company 01872 272725.

WHEELS, BRAKES AND TYRES

The wheels were in decent nick with good WM2 chrome rims and very nearly a full set of spokes. However the eighteen inch rear wheel had only thirty-nine spokes out of a specified forty and spokes are an MOT item as any fule kno’ so I spent an afternoon on the telephone sifting through options and when teatime came none of the options was at all attractive so I looked in on the village blacksmith, Robbie Savill,

a keen Moto Crosser, collector of classic Cagivas and scion of a noble breed of South West motorcyclists. As a favour Robbie arranged for his brother, Tyrone, to true both wheels and fit a new spoke in the rear wheel. The security bolts were not fitted as tyre creep was not considered to be very likely.

Both the brakes were subjected to a bit of a clean and the rear one relined with shoes from Tri-Supply of Honiton. They are comfortable in use and well suited to the bike – no stoppies, just plenty of gently progressive stop on demand.

The choice of tyres was an easy one – chunky, sticky neo classical black things equally well suited to tarmac and the farm track. Obviously the tyre supplier needed something a little more specific and after much talking and Googling it seemed to come down to either Avons or Pirellis, so I consulted another RealClassicist, Trevor Brooks the Ozboy, himself the owner of a ’69 West Coast T100C (see Real Classic magazine issue 16) just a few days older than my own bike. Trevor sent me an electronic message all the way from Australia to this effect –

Richard,

I junked the old K70s cos they scared the #*@# out of me when giving the bike some stick on road. Serviceable off road at low(ish) speeds and looked nice, but… I wanted ‘enduro’ type tyres for semi-chunky looks and a blend of tarmac and dirt (loose surface) roads.

‘Loose’ down here means mostly ‘dry’ loose, cos we don’t get no wet (generally speaking).

I wanted a same brand ‘pair’. Size availability played a large part in the choice.

I heard good things about Michelin Tourance but could not get the sizes.

Continental TKCs are too off-road for my liking on tar.

I bought Pirelli MT90 Scorpion: 100/90×19 front and 110/80×18 rear.

Front is an ST, rated 70% road and 30% trail – front being where I wanted best corner-grip on tar.

Rear is an AT, rated 40% road and 60% trail – rear being where I wanted drive-grip on loose going.

I got pretty much exactly that.

On-road they stick like the proverbial to good speeds. I found out just how bad my steering head bearings were once I’d fitted them. My racetrack-mad son had the bike over at angles I will never achieve and came back smiling. They are wearing fairly quickly but I have worked them hard and I’m not complaining. Signs are they will wear faster down here on hot summer roads (I do mean hot).

Loose surfaced hard-packed dirt roads? Brilliant. Lots of grip when being sensible and V controllable when you want to feel it all sliding beneath you.

Grippy, reliable. I am pleased with them. V V pleased. I will buy again.

Trevor

So, Pirellis it is then. Well, no, actually. In sizes suitable for classic bikes these dual-purpose tyres are made only in small batches and not very often at purchase time Pirelli Scorpions were only available for my front wheel, the back wheel ones having sold out with no prospect of another batch being produced.

Alright then, let’s have a nice pair of Avon Distanzias. Avons are good but guess what? Avon Distanzias were only available for my back wheel, the front wheel ones having sold out with no prospect of another batch being produced.

The same brand pair idea slipped down the agenda and the resultant compromise is a pleasure to ride on.

The wheel bearings passed muster, which saved a few bob.

TELESCOPIC FORK

Before the engine ever left the frame, when I was still trying for the lightest of touches and the minimum of changes I managed not to repaint anything on the front end as I renewed the fork stanchions, seals bushes and springs. Cleaning out the fork bottom members was an especially gratifying task, the sludge which came out of them was copious and thick, nothing that hot water and washing up liquid, and long bottle brush and a bit of fun with the power washer wouldn’t sort.

No fettle would be complete without a few self-made problems, would it? One of my best blunders in this one was deciding to fit taper roller steering head bearings. Apparently the make little or no difference to overall function but are easier to fit single-handed because the rollers are captive within the bearing in contrast to ball bearing (the standard arrangement) where the balls are not at all captive and can be annoyingly free all over the workshop floor.

The taper roller bearings were easily pressed into place using a cunning service tool of my own devising (as the bike was suspended from the rafters by tie-straps at his point hammering the bearings home gently seemed unwise). The fork top shrouds were fitted loosely between the fork yokes and the fork legs were pulled into place using a proper service tool, one made by someone with an engineering background. Lovely, but the fork top shrouds were now too short for the gap between the yokes. This was unsurprising as the taper roller steering head bearings are a little deeper than the ball race kind. Nothing to worry about really except for the unsightly gap between the top yoke and the fork shrouds. Various remedies were suggested by one and all including welding bits onto the shrouds and ditching the taper roller arrangement and reverting to ball races.

The favoured intervention though, suggested and facilitated by Frank Westworth himself, was to fit a pair of Norton Dominator shroud rubbers.

BSAPhill pointed out that were I to lift the top yoke gently I could effect the insertion of said Norton bits without dismantling the forks. Brilliant, wonderful – not only did I save a lot of hassle but also this method enabled me to spray loads of “White Grease” onto the top sections of the fork stanchions. Covering them with white grease might mean that they won’t rust, which in turn night make the fork stanchions easier to pull through the bottom yoke next time I feel like taking the front end to bits. Thus was a blemish turned into a virtue.

The six inch headlamp scrubbed up well enough and the dink in the rim testifies to a rich and chequered career. The bulb is whatever was in the headlamp when the bike arrived, so no doubt it will see me out.

To true the forks in the time honoured tradition I bounced up and down on them a few times then tightened up all the fastenings.

ELECTRICAL SYSTEM

At first glance the electrical system looked mildly unsystematic; admittedly the main components were all present but the wiring, oh the wiring. Nearly all the wiring was well insulated, some of it was original, less of it was original Triumph; the wiring had to go.

Options were there several. Naturally I have all the cable, tools and accoutrements necessary to rewire a late model T100 and was itching to use them.

On the other hand I’ve always wanted to commission a hand made loom from Sean Hawker of CMES, especially as I seldom buy suits anymore and they’re usually off the peg.

On the third hand (and we all need an extra hand once in a while) I was intending to use the stock points, capacitors, rectifier and Zener which intention meant I could simply buy a stock loom from TMS (0115 950 3447).

So I bought a stock loom. A cloth covered one. Fab. Except for one thing, I had a 1969 wiring diagram and a 2006 loom and by no means all the colours matched up. After a great deal of head scratching and a little trial and error I asked for help on the RC Message Board and was rewarded with an e-mail from L.A.B. explaining that some colour codes were altered by universal agreement around 1974. The beggars didn’t consult me.

Much later I decided to fit a Boyer electronic ignition system and a Sparx regulator/rectifier which meant I got to do a bit of wiring anyway. Let’s face it I’m as predictable as the sunrise.

So, where shall I put the Sparx regulator/rectifier? Somewhere not too hot, in the airflow and free from vibration – there are few places on a T100C which meet that simple specification. Having rejected the idea of towing a kite-mounted fridge behind the bike my eye settled on a cosy spot on the front face of the battery carrier, port side.

The Boyer box needed a similar site and I had just bought some ultra butch sticky backed Velcro type stuff on eBay so I stuck it on the back of the Clear Hooter (type 27899, thirty eight years old and it still works) horn which sits under the fuel tank, near the headstock. Sadly the saddle type tank would not fit over the Boyer box which I eventually stuck on the outer face of the rear correct for year stainless steel mudguard just aft of the battery, a gel filled battery from Paul Goff (http://www.norbsa02.freeuk.com/).

The new rear stop lamp switch was bolted to the chain guard and the cable-mounted front switch wired in to the sub loom inside the headlamp. The bike will have to manage without the neat capacitor ignition which would have been fitted as standard. A Boyer and a decent battery will do just fine.

Allowing the Sparx regulator/rectifier to take care of things meant the finned heat sink for the Zener diode could be left off the bottom fork yoke. This in turn made room for a leather tool roll to be fitted to the forks, so that’s why I chose the Sparx route. I knew there was a good reason.

The ignition cut-out switch went back on the right side of the brand new western handle bar for no better reason than that it’s a good-looking switch. Waste of weight really.

SERVICE TOOLS

I love service tools, little bits of human ingenuity expressed in metal to make the job go more smoothly. I buy them against advice, throwing my money around like a drunken sailor on shore leave.

Sometimes I devise my own service tools, just the other day while failing to track down a mislaid oil pressure switch boot I found the thing I made fifteen years ago to do something unmentionable to the forks of a TS185 Suzuki, a yard of threaded bar with a hammered and sawn box spanner on the end of it. Best of all, it got the job done.

For this project I treated myself to “D653/4 T.D.C. locating tool” which locks the crankshaft at top dead centre, useful when setting up the contact breakers. Of course the contact breakers were not used in the finished bike.

Also bought at perfectly reasonable expense was “61-6017 Fork sleeve nut spanner” which not only tightened up the brand new fork sleeve nuts without messing up their chrome, but also does service as an impromptu hammer.

Instead of “61-6062 Front brake plate box spanner” I bought a set of Whitworth Melco box spanners from Ruses of Bodmin (rusesgas@yahoo.co.uk), purveyors of Sealey hydraulic benches to distressed gentlefolk.

“61-3824 Fork leg extractor and replacer“ was a complete must and came with adaptors for some Nortons, which was nice.

But the favourite and most pleasing special device was the one which pulled the taper roller steering head bearings into the headstock evenly and in line. At this point the bike was without its wheels and perched quite precariously on a block of polystyrene, so tapping the bearings into place was not really viable. A particular tool was used, not a costly precision tool but a very effective one, part of the hanging for a metal farm gate, price £5.86 By tightening the huge nuts on the coarse metric thread of the eyelet piece which fit easily through the headstock itself the two bearings (protected by the hinge clamps) were drawn gently into place. The bike rocked gently on its beach combed block of polystyrene as the owner purred contentedly. Bliss.

PAPERWORK

Registration was a complete doddle. As soon as the bike was in the shed I visited the DVLA Local Vehicle Licensing Office in Truro. The people there gave me a nice form and a handwritten list of documents, tailored to my situation, to bring along when the bike had passed the MOT test. Just eleven months later I returned with the hand written list, the completed form, my photo driving licence as proof of identity, a cheque for the DVLA’s £38 administration fee, the MOT certificate, proof of insurance, and those papers Jim Pogson had given me – the TOMCC dating certificate, proof that the import duty had been paid, Jim’s receipt. It was a busy time of year for DVLA Truro or I might have got the registration number while I waited. However it was the week before Easter and the new docs arrived through the post a few days later, including the Historic Vehicle Road Fund Licence Disc. I belted down the Glynn Valley to Halfords in Bodmin in the car and returned with a G suffix number plate and some sticky pads to fix it under the U.S. only period rear light unit.

Buying parts

As it is no longer possible to buy replacement parts from Meriden for obvious reasons it is necessary to build up a network of useful contacts. By and large firms which support RC through advertising are toward the top of my list along with people I have dealt with for years even if they are so successful the choose not to advertise in RC for fear of creating more demand than they can supply.

The key factors for getting my order though are –

Answering the telephone when I deign to place a call

Knowledge of the particular bike I am working on at any given moment

Decent service

Price though not immaterial is incidental to correctness and quality. Conversely if a part fails or fails to fit I don’t throw a tantrum as long as the failure is cheerfully and promptly corrected.

All business runs on trust and although I may not be the brightest bulb at the Blackpool Illuminations it does seem self evident that contemporary small volume retailers cannot possibly check every single item the send me; so as long as the retailer refunds or replaces promptly and with a good heart I am a happy fettler.

Additionally a little lateral thinking is a very good thing – when I couldn’t track down a pair of the required pivot bolts (F6655) for my folding footrests BSAPhill kindly took the one and only good pivot bolt to Shepton Mallet for a day out, had a chat to one of his Beezer bits suppliers and appeared triumphant in my shed with some BSA A65 kick start pivot bolts which fit perfectly. Good stuff.

From the library 

In “The British Classic Bike Guide” Frank Westworth says of the late T100C “It really is a classic bike and it’s a pleasure to ride today.” The other day he said of T100Cs, “They’re SLOW, Richard” referring perhaps to the top speed of this low geared, high barred, dual purpose bike – 65 m.p.h. or so.

Steve Wilson’s “Triumph Motor Cycles from 1950 to 1988: Roadsters of 250cc and Over” says “1969 saw the T100’s peak, with a strengthened bottom end, longer-wearing nitrided cams, the best front brake … “

In another cracking snippet Steve reminds us that UNF threads (which began to appear on various parts of this model in 1969) were the same as American National size.

A quick peek at Triumph Replacement Parts Catalogue No. 10 reveals that – “New parts having threaded fixings in this catalogue have the Unified form of screw threads. This changeover will be continued as and when new parts are introduced. Even where parts are similar … (Unified thread) parts are identified by markings. Bolts have a circular recess in their heads, studs a circular groove on the end, and nuts have interlocking circles on the side.” My eyesight’s just about good enough to distinguish between bolts, studs and nuts, but as to dinky little markings … the usual mix of Whitworth, Imperial A.F. and metric spanners were used on this overhaul.

John Nelson’s “Triumph Tiger 100/Daytona” emphasises just what a muddle it is to name these models accurately. At the top of page 137 is a photograph of a ’69 T100C captioned as a T100C Sports Tiger, the toolbox cover of the bike proudly bears in block script the legend “Trophy 500”. One thing you pick up about T100Cs when you start getting into them is there is no simple rule about whether they’re Tigers or Trophies, apparently it depends on which market they were sold into – the East Coast punters were street scramblers on Tigers and the West Coast punters were real scramblers on Trophies, or was it the other way round? Mine just pootles along narrow Cornish lanes which have grit and grass up the centre, mine’s a T100C.

Unlike the excellent Jim Pogson I am a naïve and sentimental motorcyclist and all my bikes have names. I have searched sporadically for this one since I was in the fifth form and first saw a green T100C on a yet another tedious school outing to Cheddar Gorge.

Somehow I would not let myself have this particularly obscure object of desire until very recently despite several tempting opportunities each of which had to agonised over with great care.

Eventually I bought this one and named the bike Johanna for all the nights when “these visions of Johanna kept me up past the dawn” (from Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde) and a hellish long wait it has been.

My most particular thanks to Rowena Hoseason who by way of encouragement lent me her T100C for a bit of a spin at a crucial moment when I thought I’d never find one of my own. But for that act of generosity I’d have bought the Yamaha DT250 which I had my eye on. I still fancy a Yammy dirt bike come to think of it.

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8 thoughts on “Recommissioning a 1969 Triumph T100C

  1. Hello would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with? I’m looking to start my own blog
    in the near future but I’m having a hard time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for
    something unique. P.S My apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  2. Cracking article …… I have t110c frame number 09081 so they probably left on the same boat ……. I love it

    • Stuart, the saddle is a ’71 TR6P seat. I had an extra bracket welded to the frame midway to take its second hinge.

      The rack is a Craven and while no-one actually knows what it is the general feeling is that it would originally have been mounted over the the front wheel of a scooter.

      Hope this helps.

      Richard

  3. I just came across your article, I also own a 1969 T100c I bought new in Columbus, GA. U.S.A. It also has a W.R. transmission, it is in the process of getting new paint and getting a good going over. It has been a very trouble free bike and gave me many miles of smiles, and more to come when it’s back together. Frame/engine no. #19261. Hey you did a fine job on your trophy, also I added a center stand on mine. The stock kickstands on these are know for breaking off. Cheers

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