With the crank away for a rebuild, Rick turns his attentions to wheel building
Istruggle with downtime. Having expected to be reassembling the engine this month, the need to leave the crank with Alpha Bearings for a rebuild over an uncertain time frame threw me off kilter. Of course, there’s plenty else to do and maybe it’s just me, but when I have a job mapped out in my head I can easily lose the thread when such an interruption occurs. So in a way it was a good thing when Mike Wild from the Rudge Enthusiasts Club asked me if I’d display the bike on the club stand at Stafford Show. He realised it wasn’t finished, but said it would make an interesting talking point on the stand.
Although it added a bit to the workload, at least the show deadline focused me on a new direction to fill the downtime. First was the wheels. I don’t replace spokes habitually; in my experience, rusty spokes are stronger than they look (the thing to look for, by the way, is ‘necking’ due to corrosion where the spoke enters the brass nipple, if there is no weakness here I worry no further) but since this bike will carry a sidecar, it made sense to start with a new set. There was a spare rear hub and rim in the bits with the bike, so I re-used the old spokes to build Ben a spare wheel which he could strap to the side.
Paul Horton (rudge.parts) supplies correct Rudge spokes. They are double-butted – thicker gauge at either end, where they need it. These are difficult to get from most suppliers, because the blanks have to be specially made for the 19, 20 and 21in wheels Rudge used, rather than being easily cut from straight wire. Paul supplies all sizes for a very reasonable £65 per wheel and they fitted perfectly. I wanted to make the bike look show-ready, which meant sorting the headlight. The glass was missing and although I’d picked up an ex-wd piece from a jumble for a fiver, it turned out to be ½in too big. For once I gambled and won, managing to trim off the excess with a circular glass cutter.
But I had one worry. I’m pleased with the er, artisan finish on the bike, but wouldn’t visitors to the stand think that ‘The Classic Bike Restoration Project’ had been painted by a particularly challenged three-yearold? So I wrote a display board which explained that my goal was to restore the bike to match the finish of its original parts and hoped for the best. I needn’t have worried – the Rudge was well received by club members and public alike. I was almost smug when I spotted a rosette on the headlight... but it turned out to be a Best Club Stand award. Well, hopefully the project bike did its bit to help.
The magneto is the right one – a BTH KD1 with sideways-exit advance cable – but its stiff to turn and there’s no spark.
ABOVE: A Vitrex cutter pared down a bargain piece of headlight glass to fit
RIGHT: Rick and friend with the bike on display at Stafford Classic Bike show Sprocket sits on a taper; there’s no key so with nut off, give it a sharp tap in rotating direction with a soft object to spin it off. To strip it, the points need to come off first, along with any earthing screws or brushes that point inward from the outside.