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 (gp­mo­to­san­ci­ 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...


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