Class of 1970
When it came to teaching the MX world class. Husqvarna’s 400 Cross was top of the class.
It was all going on for Husqvarna in 1970 – top in MX, movie stardom and riding high. A young lad was smitten by a model kit of the 400 Cross…
Looking at Will Bennett’s bike again, after its Stafford-winning appearance, it was clear this was still a superb machine. A photoshoot planned for December is fraught with difficulty, the weather being the major problem as it could be so bright as to make photography difficult, so cold as to make standing around uncomfortable or, as in this case, so wet and miserable we nearly had to call the whole thing off. It didn’t help that the weather forecast was telling us it was clear and bright in Kent.
“I could ring the school to see if we can do the shoot in our workshops,” said tech teacher Will. With the school officially on Christmas break, or the pupils at least, this seemed a great idea, so with the bike safely in the van, off we went round a very rural Kent, to St Ronan’s School. Parking outside its grand exterior Will and I left the Husky in the van while we went to make our presence known to the school office.
Following the principle of nothing ventured nothing gained, I asked if there was a possibility of doing the shoot inside the school… which is how we ended up wheeling a Swedish motorcycle through the halls of an English prep school.
Will looked on incredulously as I waffled on about light and contrasts with the pastels of the room enhancing the red, silver and black scheme of the 400 Cross. I could tell he wasn’t convinced, but he mellowed when he saw the photos.
Looking at this 400 Cross, it is hard to believe it didn’t start out as a complete bike. The bare bones were there – rolling chassis and engine, or most of the engine anyway – but there were a lot of parts to source. “That is the bit which really took the time,” says our man, “I was determined to find the correct bits to make the bike as catalogue as possible, if I’d been building it to ride
then this would have been of less concern, but I’ve another Husky to race.” It was then he admitted he’d been smitten by the 400 Cross since seeing a scale model kit of one when he was young. “I’ve become a bit of an internet auction site hound,” he grins, as his phone bleeped with warnings of parts auctions coming to an end.
Will had clearly immersed himself in Husky lore and his dedication to the accuracy of the restoration extended to trying to source Swedish ‘Bufo’ fasteners which were the original equipment suppliers to Volvo as well as Husqvarna. These fasteners are particularly rare and even an internet search didn’t help, but rumour has it Scania Trucks use them.
Also rare is the ‘for one season only’ petrol tank, it’s the same shape as the season before and after, but for some reason the cap is off-set to the right-hand side as the rider sees the bike. Why? Who knows, we don’t. This wouldn’t be a major problem if it was unobtainable as the tank is only steel and the position could be moved, but the right one turned up.
Also missing were the contents of the gearbox and the exhaust system. Gearbox bits weren’t a problem as Will knows a man… the exhaust pipe however, was the last year of the bolt-on manifold and to get one undamaged is probably out of the question, but an acceptable one did eventually turn up. Also turning up with a stroke of luck was the sidestand and a genuine Renold chain.
With parts coming together, Will felt able to start the rebuild, or at least look at the frame to see if it needed repair, and it did. Apparently the subframes always need repair and the support plates where it joins the main frame have a bush which wears out, then the hole wears oval and needs welding and the bush replacing. Also the footrest mounting holes wear quickly so need welding and remachining.
“I also set to and made the titanium swinging arm spindle… it cost more in dies to cut the thread than it did to buy the material in the first place,” he grins.
While talking about the chassis Will mentioned the front forks which are Husqvarna’s own make but were quite ropey. “The chrome was pitted and the seals torn, so I had a word with HCP who wanted the sliders too when the stanchions were to be chromed. That meant I’d to refurbish them first.” It seems not only are there seals in the top where you’d expect them, but also the bottom of the tube drifts out and there’s a seal in there too. This was a difficult process and one Will doesn’t attempt any more as the seal is an odd size and took ages to find something suitable.
Once the sliders were done, the whole lot was shipped off to HCP so the hard chrome could be replaced. This is an engineering,
In the 400 Cross, Husqvarna had produced a motorcycle which would help any rider excel and it propelled the company up the international ratings.
Note the off- set fuel filler, it is a ‘ for 1970 only’ detail, tanks before and after are the same shape but with a central filler.
He could have just used ordinary cables but no, Will Bennett searched for the correct Husqvarna ones with the oilers built in.
Same with the correct Magura throttle – note the
quick change cable gate.
A new cover hides original seat foam.
Will Bennett, with a Husqvarna, in the library… which is better than Colonel Mustard in the library… spot the clue?
Now this is serious obsession – Will’s wife called it something else though – Husqvarna used Nyloc nuts with RED nylon inserts, modern Nylocs generally have blue.