No more trudg­ing. Rick’s lat­est restora­tion fires into life (see left), but he’s not en­tirely happy…

Get­ting the project run­ning is usu­ally a time for re­joic­ing but Rick hasn’t found the path to this stage quite so en­joy­able…

Classic Bike (UK) - - Contents -

This is a mo­ment to savour; oil in the tank, petrol in the carb and the Project Rudge fired up on the fourth kick. I’m not sure if the ‘Noise Abate­ment So­ci­ety’ still ex­ists but if I don’t fit the exhausts soon I sus­pect I’ll find out. Hear­ing your project roar into life is a great morale boost and that’s just what I needed af­ter the strug­gles I had this month. While the smoke clears from the shed, I’ll tell you all about it. I should have known some­thing was up when our re­turn home from a week away was greeted with a neigh­bour’s skip block­ing my drive, a leak­ing stop­cock and a wasp’s nest in the cav­ity of the kitchen wall. But there was more to come.

Last month you left me or­der­ing rocker spin­dles and bushes so I could fit the Rudge cylin­der head. Well, the Rudge Club didn’t have the spin­dles af­ter all. There was a spare top-end with the bike and I was pleased to find the rock­ers and spin­dles were only a lit­tle worn; in fact, apart from a se­verely burned out ex­haust valve, the head was maybe bet­ter than the one on the bike. Hang on, this IS the one off the bike. The clues are all here – the bar­rel has no pis­ton oil feed, a 1937-only omis­sion that al­legedly led to seizures and sure enough there’s a bro­ken pis­ton in the box. The top-end I’m us­ing is the re­place­ment.

So now what? The later, lu­bri­cated cylin­der is worth keep­ing but it would be good to go back to the orig­i­nal head. Well, the tim­ing plug was so seized that it broke off in the hole and had to be drilled out and I spent a lot of time with the seat grinder cut­ting back the valve seat to clear the burn dam­age, but it came out pretty well with just one tiny mark prov­ing stub­born. Un­for­tu­nately, closer in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the sun­light re­vealed that the tiny mark was ac­tu­ally a crack run­ning into the valve seat, pre­sum­ably the cause of the valve burn­ing out in the first place. This head’s scrap and I’ve just wasted a whole day. I needed to set the ig­ni­tion tim­ing be­fore fit­ting the other head but no­ticed an­other prob­lem. Pulling the ig­ni­tion lever re­tarded the mag­neto cam ring but it wouldn’t spring back to the ad­vance po­si­tion. It was the same with an al­tern­tive cam ring so the hous­ing was the prob­lem mean­ing I’d need to re­move the mag for at­ten­tion. But hav­ing elected to aban­don the naff brass band that Rudge use to strap the mag­neto down in favour of bolt­ing it se­curely from be­neath I’d cre­ated a prob­lem for my­self: ac­cess­ing these bolts would mean com­pletely dis­man­tling the pri­mary drive.

It’s usu­ally best to walk away from sit­u­a­tions like this and do some­thing else un­til the cloud passes, but I’d com­mit­ted to get­ting the bike run­ning for the next fea­ture and the dead­line was loom­ing. Like swal­low­ing hor­ri­ble medicine as a kid, you have to quit squeal­ing and get it over with, so I com­pro­mised and took a tea break. Just as well I did – think­ing more calmly I re­alised I could de­tach just the cam hous­ing, leav­ing the mag­neto on the bike. It was back to­gether and timed up within an hour.

Hop­ing I was through the bad patch, I fit­ted the head and tight­ened it down. But there was now a nasty rat­tle com­ing from the top end of the en­gine. It could be the valve gear, but since the rocker cover can’t be re­moved in the frame, the only way to find out was to re­move the pushrods. The noise per­sisted – but went when I slack­ened the head bolts. So de­spite my bar­rel shim­ming ef­forts last month, the pis­ton was still hit­ting the head.

‘THIS HEAD’S SCRAP. I’VE JUST WASTED A WHOLE DAY’

‘THE BIKE READ­ILY BURST INTO EARSPLITTING LIFE’

I stripped the top-end and fit­ted a slightly thicker base shim but the noise was still there. So I started again – this time drop­ping a nut which fell deep into the tim­ing chest. Thank heav­ens for pen­cil mag­nets. This time I re­moved some metal around a shiny patch in the head and af­ter re­assem­bling, ev­ery­thing was quiet. When I hooked up the valve lifter it wasn’t work­ing and, yes, it’s fit­ted to the rocker box that you can’t re­move. I man­aged to win­kle it out by lift­ing the rocker box as far as pos­si­ble and tak­ing out the pushrods, but there was noth­ing wrong with it. Turns out that al­though dow­eled, the rocker cover can move and it needs to be po­si­tioned care­fully to keep the lifter en­gaged.

Next job was sol­der­ing up the oil pipes and a loose lug in the oil tank. That done, I buried my­self in try­ing to work out how the oil tank and bat­tery car­rier go to­gether; it’s one of those ir­ri­tat­ing jobs where ev­ery­thing has to be po­si­tioned and tight­ened up at once need­ing sev­eral tiny hands and even more pa­tience. For­tu­nately there’s a com­pli­cated but very help­ful di­a­gram on the Rudge Club web­site. It’s weird; Rudge seemed to hate pro­vid­ing brack­ets on their frames so ev­ery­thing is held on with a se­lec­tion of clips and clamps. Get­ting the oil tank in just the right place to avoid the gear­box ‘mech­a­nism cover’ on one side and line up the mount­ings for the bat­tery car­rier on the other was a hor­ri­ble faff that would se­ri­ously dis­cour­age tak­ing the oil tank off reg­u­larly to wash it out. Good job there’s a proper fil­ter! I didn’t have to worry about these is­sues build­ing my own Rudge be­cause all this stuff is miss­ing – and af­ter this, that’s how it will stay...

I needed an ig­ni­tion and throt­tle ca­ble to start the bike so I made up all the rest while I was at it, then I could bolt the tank in place.

The carb is just as it came out of the boxes. It’s the orig­i­nal but needs a flange re­pair – even so, with a bit of fuel, the bike read­ily burst into ear-split­ting life and sud­denly all of the week’s mis­ad­ven­tures flut­tered away into dis­tant mem­ory.

There’s still a few things left to do: wiring for a start, and the ex­haust pipes that came with the bike don’t ex­actly fit but hey, it can’t be any worse than this month… can it? The next re­ally big headache will be try­ing to mate the bike to the side­car chas­sis Ben dumped in my back gar­den. Hope­fully from now on it will all go com­par­a­tively smoothly. Well, you have to try to be op­ti­mistic don’t you?

Loud and proud, the mighty Rudge breathes at last!

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