Spe­cial resto

Sheene’s 76 ti­tle bike brought back to life

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Jor­dan Gib­bons SE­NIOR RE­PORTER

Last week we showed you Barry Sheene’s 1976 World Cham­pi­onship win­ning XR14 be­ing stripped in prepa­ra­tion for its restora­tion by Nigel Everett and Mar­tyn Og­borne and this week, in true Blue Peter fash­ion, here’s one they made ear­lier. Over the course of six weeks var­i­ous parts of the bike made their way around the coun­try to be re­paired and now it’s time for the re­assem­bly.

Wi­ley welders

One of the real pieces of ge­nius was the re­pair to the crankcases. Af­ter be­ing left stand­ing with wa­ter in the sys­tem, the wa­ter had eaten its way through the cases and ended up in the gear­box, leav­ing a few size­able holes be­hind. One of the holes was at the location of a thread that holds the crank­case halves to­gether, so some in­ge­nious think­ing was re­quired.

“Ex­actweld have done a fan­tas­tic job,” says Og­borne. “To re­place the area that had cor­roded away, they in­serted a cop­per tube and built up the mag­ne­sium around it. Cop­per and mag­ne­sium are such dif­fer­ent met­als that they won’t weld to­gether at all, so they put quite a bit into it with­out any risk of the met­als con­tam­i­nat­ing. Then they drilled and tapped the cop­per and it’s held up re­ally well.”

Once the crankcases were re­paired they were blasted and rechro­mated, which adds an anti-cor­ro­sive layer and re­turns that fac­tory-fresh dark green colour. Along with the ma­jor work to the cranks, all the rub­ber gas­kets and seals were re­placed as they had hard­ened with age. The brakes and forks were fully rebuilt and the tyres re­placed, al­though they pre­sented an in­ter­est­ing chal­lenge.

“Just like all the other rub­ber parts, the tyres had turned com­pletely solid,” says Og­borne. “We dared not try to lever them off, as the rims would prob­a­bly break and we didn’t re­ally want to cut them off, so we had an idea. It was a scorch­ing hot day, so we put the wheels in the green­house, which reached about 45°C. Af­ter a few hours in there they were soft enough to re­move.”

Starter’s or­ders

With the en­gine but­toned up in the frame it’s the mo­ment of truth. Everett fills the ra­di­a­tor and watches for bubbles as an in­di­ca­tion there may be tiny holes in the sys­tem that have been missed. There are a few but not enough for con­cern, so the tank is filled with pre-mix and it’s time to fire it up.

“It’ll ei­ther start in a few sec­onds or it won’t start at all,” says Everett. “That was al­ways the case with these bikes. Also, we can’t re­ally be sure about the elec­tron­ics – it could have a duff CDI.”

A few mo­ments on the roller and the bike roars into life. The en­gine crack­les and pops as blue smoke pumps out of the pipes be­fore quickly set­tling down into that char­ac­ter­is­tic race bike rat­tle. As if more proof is needed of the qual­ity of the re­build, Everett takes a step out onto the road and bump starts it in a few feet. All that re­mains are some fi­nal checks, the fair­ings and it will be, in Og­borne’s words, “ready to race”. NEXT WEEK: Part 3, The fin­ished ar­ti­cle and plans for the fu­ture.

‘It will ei­ther start in the first few sec­onds of try­ing or it won’t start at all’ NIGEL EVERETT

Those pipes are about to start smok­ing No mat­ter how skilled the me­chanic, sheer brute force and ig­no­rance is still re­quired at times

This bike is not a work of art, it’s much more beau­ti­ful than that

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