Class of 1970

When it came to teach­ing the MX world class. Husq­varna’s 400 Cross was top of the class.

Classic Dirtbike - - Contents - Words and pics: Tim Brit­ton

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.