Rick says he’s never at a loose end – but he’s often surrounded by them, so before starting the next project he wanted to tie a couple of them up...
From pile of parts to a complete bike – it’s time to tie-up the loose ends on Rick’s Sunbeam project
In April, the Project Sunbeam fired up easily after a frantic rebuild, but the keen-eyed may have noticed it still lacked certain components: handlebar controls, saddle, front mudguard... that sort of thing. With the Stafford Classic Bike Show looming, at which I’d arranged to hand over the bike to owner Raymond, it was time to get on with finishing it off.
Guess what – it all took longer than expected and panic was unleashed in the workshop. The main jobs to do were fit a front mudguard, fit handlebar levers and make a few cables. Raymond would have to sort the rear brake as the shoes were away being relined by Gary Parkin (email@example.com). I decided to leave the mudguard till last; Raymond was happy for me to fit the universal item it came with which, given my lack of time, made sense but its ribbed style was more suited to a later bike and wouldn’t match the original rear I’d fitted. Still, it was a get-out-of-jail-free card if I needed it.
Making cables is easy enough using a Venhill ‘bird caging’ tool (expensive, but makes me smile every time I use it), but I had no clevis end for the front brake cable. I had a few odd clevises in my bits and pieces, but Sunbeam used a particularly sturdy type with a 5/16in pin diameter instead of the more usual ¼in. Drilling out a universal clevis would leave it considerably weakened, so I decided to make one; I was pleased with the result, but it was quite a long job. I’ve learned over the years that sometimes you can waste so much time trying to find a way around making a part that you’re better off just getting on with it. I hadn’t been able to make a clutch cable because we were missing the clutch operation lever, but Raymond managed to get a good reproduction item from Vintage Replica, the Czech company that produces some really excellent items.
The same couldn’t be said for the internet- sourced handlebar lever. I mentioned problems with weak pattern inverted levers last month, but this pre-war-style clutch blade, although more substantial, proved to be equally unusable without a lot of faff. If you have to pay someone to sort this out, the high price often asked for original levers no longer seems such a bad deal.
Deciding to load the bike in the morning left me the evening to fit my chosen front mudguard – a universal plain blade from Renovation Spares. All I needed to do was cut it to size and knock up some brackets and stays... but I didn’t down tools until midnight and still had a few hours’ work in the morning before I could load up for the show. But wheeling the bike onto the Sunbeam MCC stand, I was pleased I’d gone the extra distance. The tank is the crowning feature on a bike, but mudguards are a close second and an otherwise tidy machine can be spoiled by ugly gaps or angles.
Raymond seemed pleased with the rapid turnaround from pile of bits to complete bike. His next job will be to start the re-registration process; the bike came without paperwork, but being now basically all 1931 that should be no problem. Meanwhile, he can get on with sorting the running; the bike started easily on the bench, but further adjustments are likely to be needed.
Soon after getting home, a knock at the door announced the arrival of the new gears for Raymond’s other Sunbeam. Made by specialist Chris Odling (01852 300191) they are the first step on the road to finishing the 1929 bike I was working on in March. I’d better chase up the crankshaft and magneto rebuilds...
‘RAYMOND WAS PLEASED THE PILE OF BITS WAS NOW A COMPLETE BIKE’