The Classic Motorcycle

Corking plunger petrol taps

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Over the past 55 years, I’ve been lucky, motorcycli­ng wise, riding a huge number of different machines, and have only been without a motorcycle for three months (painful) and now have rather too many. I like them all – big or small, slow and fast, mopeds and cyclemotor­s, two and four-stroke, trials, scrambles, roadsters, racers… But I have never been keen on outfits. A past boss humiliated me into teaching myself to drive one, finishing with ‘once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll really enjoy them.’ I did, but didn’t – that is, I learned to drive them, but still don’t enjoy them.

About 15 years ago, dealer son Peter sold on behalf of a friend an original Nutley blue 1960

BSA A10/Watsonian Ascot outfit. Ten years later the customer wanted to sell it and for reasons I can’t understand, Peter bought it back to keep. My theory is once you’ve sold something, you don’t want it, so why buy it back? On the plus side, it is low mileage, never been restored, starts easily, is well set up so drives well, but it’s… well, hardly handsome (cruel but true) and takes up too much room in the garage, workshop, shed, summer house or wherever you store your motorcycle­s.

About once a year, just to prove I can still drive one, I take the A10 outfit out on one of our longer test routes for a spin, then hand it back and forget it for another year.

Usually, my outing coincides with the petrol taps leaking, so out come the corked tap plungers to be treated to 10 minutes in boiling water. This year, no amount of boiling would swell the wretches, leaving options of fitting new taps (‘can’t do that’ uttered Peter, ‘those have been on the Beezer for years’), so easy solution one was vetoed. Fit a pair of ready corked new plungers (easy solution two) was off, as we had none in stock and the job needed doing ‘now’ because ‘now’ was the moment for a spin on the Wallace and Grommit-like plot. So only option three was left. The less easy solution – recork the existing petrol tap plungers.

 ?? ?? 1960 BSA A10 has hauled a third wheel since only a few months old. In 1965, TC Munday & Co
Ltd fitted its current sidecar for £125, but then allowed Mr Cox £40 for his old Watsonian sidecar they’d just removed.
1960 BSA A10 has hauled a third wheel since only a few months old. In 1965, TC Munday & Co Ltd fitted its current sidecar for £125, but then allowed Mr Cox £40 for his old Watsonian sidecar they’d just removed.
 ?? ?? Above: The BSA A10’s two petrol tap plungers ready for recorking, along with another tap as an example of how the plunger with twist action lock fits to tap body.
Right: Most petrol tap plungers of the type illustrate­d are in three parts – stepped shaft, which holds the cork on its larger diameter part, and the tap knob to effect the push, pull and twist action. This locates to both parts of the larger diameter shaft section and the thinner portion which when made had its end poked through the knob and then spread into a tiny button to secure the knob firmly. To dismantle, the button end of the shaft is drilled out – but only drill deep enough to almost free the shaft from the knob, then drive out the shaft with blunt, small diameter rod punch.
Above: The BSA A10’s two petrol tap plungers ready for recorking, along with another tap as an example of how the plunger with twist action lock fits to tap body. Right: Most petrol tap plungers of the type illustrate­d are in three parts – stepped shaft, which holds the cork on its larger diameter part, and the tap knob to effect the push, pull and twist action. This locates to both parts of the larger diameter shaft section and the thinner portion which when made had its end poked through the knob and then spread into a tiny button to secure the knob firmly. To dismantle, the button end of the shaft is drilled out – but only drill deep enough to almost free the shaft from the knob, then drive out the shaft with blunt, small diameter rod punch.
 ?? ?? If your corks are supple, you can miss out this stage. Hard corks will split as they are pushed home on the larger diameter section of the plunger shaft. Boiling them in water for a few minutes makes them more supple.
If your corks are supple, you can miss out this stage. Hard corks will split as they are pushed home on the larger diameter section of the plunger shaft. Boiling them in water for a few minutes makes them more supple.
 ?? ?? Life seldom runs smoothly. Our cork stock comprised appropriat­e cylindrica­l corks, but they were either of too small or too large diameter. By placing the larger corks on a straight rod arbor held in a watchmaker’s lathe’s three-jaw chuck, they were reduced in moments using some 80-grade emery cloth strip. Power drills, modellers’ drive units etc will serve for this job.
Life seldom runs smoothly. Our cork stock comprised appropriat­e cylindrica­l corks, but they were either of too small or too large diameter. By placing the larger corks on a straight rod arbor held in a watchmaker’s lathe’s three-jaw chuck, they were reduced in moments using some 80-grade emery cloth strip. Power drills, modellers’ drive units etc will serve for this job.
 ?? ?? Press (or tap with light hammer action) the plunger knobs home on their shafts. They are a friction fit. Take care to only drive them home, but not too much, as this will compress the cork. Then, with centre punch, spread thinner end of shaft within the plunger tap knob, which will secure it.
For a belt and braces job, a small drop of bearing fit applied before tapping/pressing the fit will act as a glue and if one wants to restore the original ‘button’ look, a blob of plastic metal will serve.
Press (or tap with light hammer action) the plunger knobs home on their shafts. They are a friction fit. Take care to only drive them home, but not too much, as this will compress the cork. Then, with centre punch, spread thinner end of shaft within the plunger tap knob, which will secure it. For a belt and braces job, a small drop of bearing fit applied before tapping/pressing the fit will act as a glue and if one wants to restore the original ‘button’ look, a blob of plastic metal will serve.
 ?? ?? Example of satisfacto­ry sliding fit of cork within slave tap. The job, including photograph­y and refitting to the BSA A10, took an hour. Dark rain clouds were overhead, so I put off my annual outfit driving experience for another day… Or maybe another year!
Example of satisfacto­ry sliding fit of cork within slave tap. The job, including photograph­y and refitting to the BSA A10, took an hour. Dark rain clouds were overhead, so I put off my annual outfit driving experience for another day… Or maybe another year!
 ?? ?? Push or slide corks into position on the plunger shaft. If the corks are supple, no lubricant is needed and, really, it is best to fit them without.
Push or slide corks into position on the plunger shaft. If the corks are supple, no lubricant is needed and, really, it is best to fit them without.

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