Now I’m hooked on 50s
Found at last year’s Classic Bike Live by his wife, Ian admits he didn’t know what this race-bred Benelli was. However, he’s now deep into restoring the sweet Italian.
We showed the Benelli 50 Sport in as-found condition on the Classic Bike stand at the MCN London Show in February. We made a start on turning the bike round as soon as we got home. Progress was not helped in any way by the cold weather, but it was stripped and parts sorted out in priority of work required.
One of the repairs to the frame meant cutting out the old welded-on footrests and making new bolts for attaching them correctly. The wheels were stripped, the hubs cleaned up and new bearings fitted. Spokes were sized and ordered from Central Wheel Components (01675 462264) – they are always pleased to help – although the wheel rims had to be sourced from a supplier in Italy. They had to be repainted, as were the hubs, but once all the items were assembled I could get on with rebuilding the wheels.
The frame and a few other parts were sent off to be blasted and powder-coated. Some components only required the blasting process, so to make sure only the right parts were coated I sent photos of the bits that were to be blasted, along with clear instructions for everything (for example, I asked them to ensure the chassis number area was masked and lacquered after the rest had been treated). Once they were back with me, I sent off everything that needed painting.
By this time the engine was done. The piston looked OK, seals and bearings were mostly standard sizes, and my local specialist was able to find obscure bits like the ball race in the gearbox. With the cases vapour-blasted and a new old-stock exhaust fitted, it was back in the frame. We’re now seeing the rewards for our efforts.
The Benelli has sparked a new addiction for 50cc bikes. I’ve also found an Itom 50 which I’m planning to restore as well. I love the connection with former racing stars – my hero Bill Ivy started racing on one, as did Mike Hailwood. Not that I plan to start racing again at my age... but I can live the dream.
Benelli has been blasted, powdercoated and painted. It’s looking good...
BELOW: Ian now also has an Itom of great interest
RIGHT: Local specialist tracked down the gearbox ball race – a hen’s teeth component