Chrome is back and assembly begins on the 1957 Triumph Freebird build!

With less than a month till the Born-Free Show, it is crunch time around the shop. Chrome is finally back, the frame is back together, and engine, primary, and tranny are installed. Still making a bunch of small parts to finish off the build.

The tranny was waiting on the kick-start and shifter arms as well as the clutch arm before final assembly could be done.

The tranny was waiting on the kick-start and shifter arms as well as the clutch arm before final assembly could be done.

Just prior to the engine install, a lot of cleaning threads and removing chrome from holes to get the parts back together. The fork springs were cadmium plated to contrast all the chrome and to match all the other round-rod cadmium plated pieces.

Just prior to the engine install, a lot of cleaning threads and removing chrome from holes to get the parts back together. The fork springs were cadmium plated to contrast all the chrome and to match all the other round-rod cadmium plated pieces.

A brass collar for the internal cable throttle assembly being made.

A brass collar for the internal cable throttle assembly being made.

There is something exciting about a table covered with fresh chrome. The brass collar in the previous picture can be seen on the handlebars.

There is something exciting about a table covered with fresh chrome. The brass collar in the previous picture can be seen on the handlebars.

Most of the chrome was very good, but the brake arm on the right was nickel colored and had to be re-chromed.

Most of the chrome was very good, but the brake arm on the right was nickel colored and had to be re-chromed.

The rear wheel dust cover was missing off the spacer so a brass one was made that covers the spacer and is held in place by a small recess on the edge of the spacer that allows the wheel nut to clamp it down.

The rear wheel dust cover was missing off the spacer so a brass one was made that covers the spacer and is held in place by a small recess on the edge of the spacer that allows the wheel nut to clamp it down.

Time will tell if this is a good design, but the factory one uses a cover pressed-on to the spacer that had come loose and started spinning, gouging out the edge of the spacer.

Time will tell if this is a good design, but the factory one uses a cover pressed-on to the spacer that had come loose and started spinning, gouging out the edge of the spacer.

After polishing the rear spokes and nipples, it was obvious the front wheel was going to need to be disassembled and polished again. Sigh.

After polishing the rear spokes and nipples, it was obvious the front wheel was going to need to be disassembled and polished again. Sigh.

After the polish job, a brass dust cover was made to match the rear wheel.

After the polish job, a brass dust cover was made to match the rear wheel.

More details. Brass screen was placed in the front brake panel grills.

More details. Brass screen was placed in the front brake panel grills.

Engine and tranny are in, wheels built, but the small details will delay getting it on the ground.

Engine and tranny are in, wheels built, but the small details will delay getting it on the ground.

The first of the leather work has come back and is amazing!

The first of the leather work has come back and is amazing!

Engraving brass parts and saddle bag construction on the 1957 Triumph Freebird Bike.

The brass reverse handlebar levers and kickstart pedal were engraved by Wade O. Wilson of Mansfield Texas. He also did engraving and pinstripe on the Honda CL175 Cabracer and Elsinrore MT250 Brother Bike built for Steve Caballero. Wade came up with the Freebird script that echoes the original Thunderbird script on the primary cover,.

The brass reverse handlebar levers and kickstart pedal were engraved by Wade O. Wilson of Mansfield Texas. He also did engraving and pinstripe on the Honda CL175 Cabracer and Elsinrore MT250 Brother Bike built for Steve Caballero. Wade came up with the Freebird script that echoes the original Thunderbird script on the primary cover,.

I wanted a vintage checking on the levers like you see on pliers. Wade used a rounded tip graver to get this appearance. Everything was buffed to break the edges and then oxidized.

I wanted a vintage checking on the levers like you see on pliers. Wade used a rounded tip graver to get this appearance. Everything was buffed to break the edges and then oxidized.

A Japanese Koi fish on the clutch lever perch. The fish is my personal symbol, explained in the “about” section of this site.

A Japanese Koi fish on the clutch lever perch. The fish is my personal symbol, explained in the “about” section of this site.

Also taken from a Japanese painting, this is the bird chosen to be the Freebird. I was wanting a simple small bird, the type of little consequence that is free in the sense that he is free of expectation. Think about it, song birds, beautiful birds, predators, scavengers, everyone has their eye on them and expect a certain behavior or appearance, but the little unremarkable one gets to go around unnoticed…which one is more free?

Also taken from a Japanese painting, this is the bird chosen to be the Freebird. I was wanting a simple small bird, the type of little consequence that is free in the sense that he is free of expectation. Think about it, song birds, beautiful birds, predators, scavengers, everyone has their eye on them and expect a certain behavior or appearance, but the little unremarkable one gets to go around unnoticed…which one is more free?

The Born Free script on the other side of the kicker pedal. Wade did such a killer job on everything!

The Born Free script on the other side of the kicker pedal. Wade did such a killer job on everything!

Some saddle bags for the rear rack of the bike. Beaten on a steel hammer form, they are made from single pieces of 22 gauge steel.

Some saddle bags for the rear rack of the bike. Beaten on a steel hammer form, they are made from single pieces of 22 gauge steel.

Just held temporarily by tape, the edges had to be tweaked quite a bit to get them to line up together.

Just held temporarily by tape, the edges had to be tweaked quite a bit to get them to line up together.

The boxes will be for tools and anything else that will fit in them. They will be suspended in the triangular section of the rear rack.

The boxes will be for tools and anything else that will fit in them. They will be suspended in the triangular section of the rear rack.

20 gauge brass and some brass tubing is being used to make the hinge for the boxes.

20 gauge brass and some brass tubing is being used to make the hinge for the boxes.

The boxes will be covered with leather and the brass will be oxidized after the soldering is done. There will be a toggle type latch in the circular part of the hinge strap, and a flap over the top.

The boxes will be covered with leather and the brass will be oxidized after the soldering is done. There will be a toggle type latch in the circular part of the hinge strap, and a flap over the top.

Freshly rebuilt by Joe Hunt Magnetos, the magnets were switched out for some of the Neodymium ones that never need re-magnetization and are supposed to deliver a dense spark.

Freshly rebuilt by Joe Hunt Magnetos, the magnets were switched out for some of the Neodymium ones that never need re-magnetization and are supposed to deliver a dense spark.

Paid a good bit for the sticker…too bad it is coming off.

Paid a good bit for the sticker…too bad it is coming off.

The 1957 Triumph Freebird Bike battery box and headlight finishing.

Getting some more body parts finished. The battery box latch and hinge are on and just waiting on the frame to come back from chrome. The latch was made from some one-eighth inch brass plate and an antique skeleton key.

Easy to open with one finger, but still tight enough it can’t accidentally open.

Easy to open with one finger, but still tight enough it can’t accidentally open.

This latch was made a couple years ago and has sat in a box until this build was revived for the Bornfree Show. Nice to see it finally in place.

This latch was made a couple years ago and has sat in a box until this build was revived for the Bornfree Show. Nice to see it finally in place.

The hinge is also handmade from 20 gauge brass and tubing.

The hinge is also handmade from 20 gauge brass and tubing.

Details, details, details. The rear tank mount was worked out, using brass rod and nuts drilled for safety wire and rubber mounting on all sides.

Details, details, details. The rear tank mount was worked out, using brass rod and nuts drilled for safety wire and rubber mounting on all sides.

Getting the headlight assembly wired up. The indicator lights are lit by neon bulbs taken from some military surplus fixtures.

Getting the headlight assembly wired up. The indicator lights are lit by neon bulbs taken from some military surplus fixtures.

Still feels strange using a positive ground, but really it is just getting used to the wire color difference.

Still feels strange using a positive ground, but really it is just getting used to the wire color difference.

Coming up with some brass fittings for the fuel hoses. The 1/4 BSP fittings were an online purchase and along with some clear 5/16” tubing, look a lot like the stock Triumph hoses. The brass thin wall tubing came from the hobby store, and slipped over the tubing snugly. It would probably been tight enough to keep the barbed fitting in, but a little crimping would probably be a good idea.

Coming up with some brass fittings for the fuel hoses. The 1/4 BSP fittings were an online purchase and along with some clear 5/16” tubing, look a lot like the stock Triumph hoses. The brass thin wall tubing came from the hobby store, and slipped over the tubing snugly. It would probably been tight enough to keep the barbed fitting in, but a little crimping would probably be a good idea.

To do the crimping, a simple tool was made from scrap steel.

To do the crimping, a simple tool was made from scrap steel.

The finished hoses after the crimping and the patina was applied.

The finished hoses after the crimping and the patina was applied.

Not having the frame is not all bad as it has forced me to work on the components on the bench opposed to on the bike.

Not having the frame is not all bad as it has forced me to work on the components on the bench opposed to on the bike.

The Seven bike was moved into the house. Yeah, my wife is alright.

The Seven bike was moved into the house. Yeah, my wife is alright.

Finalizing the gascap and taillight on the 1957 Triumph freebird bike

Finally getting around to some small details. The gas cap still needed to have the seal finished up. There needs to be something to cover the spring and screw that hang under the cap and a baffle to help keep sloshing gas away from the seal. There also needs to be a small air vent. On the tail light, an LED was placed inside the housing and a neat way to secure the wiring under the fender was worked out.

The finished cap. It operates easily with one hand, and stays open on its own. A cotter pin was added to the screw holding the locking lever on. Some people might frown on a cotter pin on the gas cap hinge, but after seeing one on a Vincent, I figure its legit.

The finished cap. It operates easily with one hand, and stays open on its own. A cotter pin was added to the screw holding the locking lever on. Some people might frown on a cotter pin on the gas cap hinge, but after seeing one on a Vincent, I figure its legit.

The inner cap and air vent for the gas cap. A failed attempt made from some brass tube is in the background. It took more than an hour to beat that ugly piece of crap, and about half that time I was questioning whether it would make the cut. Sometimes you just have to start over.

The inner cap and air vent for the gas cap. A failed attempt made from some brass tube is in the background. It took more than an hour to beat that ugly piece of crap, and about half that time I was questioning whether it would make the cut. Sometimes you just have to start over.

Making the cap was a lot easier the second time. The piece of brass was domed a little on a beater bag first, and then placed inside a used brake caliper piston to form the flange. There were probably ten annealing sessions to keep the metal soft.

Making the cap was a lot easier the second time. The piece of brass was domed a little on a beater bag first, and then placed inside a used brake caliper piston to form the flange. There were probably ten annealing sessions to keep the metal soft.

Here the cap flange is being flattened out with the aid of a vise, steel plate, a steel drift and the brake piston..

Here the cap flange is being flattened out with the aid of a vise, steel plate, a steel drift and the brake piston..

Some Fel-Pro cork gasket material was used for the seal. The spring mechanism for the locking lever can be seen under the cap.

Some Fel-Pro cork gasket material was used for the seal. The spring mechanism for the locking lever can be seen under the cap.

The nice thing about the shape of the cap is that the taper on the edges holds the thick gasket material in place which in turn holds the inner cap in place.

The nice thing about the shape of the cap is that the taper on the edges holds the thick gasket material in place which in turn holds the inner cap in place.

Had to make some brass washers partially because the hardware store did not carry just the right dimensions needed, and partially because I didn’t want to wait to get some online.

Had to make some brass washers partially because the hardware store did not carry just the right dimensions needed, and partially because I didn’t want to wait to get some online.

This is how you finish up the edges on the washers after they are punched out. After they are chucked up, they can be spun against the belt sander, then some finer sand paper, and then the buffer. They are placed on a piece of rod and buffed agin to break the edges.

This is how you finish up the edges on the washers after they are punched out. After they are chucked up, they can be spun against the belt sander, then some finer sand paper, and then the buffer. They are placed on a piece of rod and buffed agin to break the edges.

The washers were to mount the front fender bracket. Everything is getting a rubber mount on the body work. There are nylon lock nuts on the backside.

The washers were to mount the front fender bracket. Everything is getting a rubber mount on the body work. There are nylon lock nuts on the backside.

The inside of the tail light housing got a bracket soldered on and a Supernova LED light. These lights come from Revival Cycles in Austin and are super bright.

The inside of the tail light housing got a bracket soldered on and a Supernova LED light. These lights come from Revival Cycles in Austin and are super bright.

Trying to figure a tidy and secure way to run the tail light wiring. This tubular brass bracket was put together to solve the problem.

Trying to figure a tidy and secure way to run the tail light wiring. This tubular brass bracket was put together to solve the problem.

The bracket in place. The lower end of the tube and wiring will be made to exit the fender and go to the power source, but that will be worked out when the fender is mounted back on the bike.

The bracket in place. The lower end of the tube and wiring will be made to exit the fender and go to the power source, but that will be worked out when the fender is mounted back on the bike.

Really liking how the flair of green on the end of the fender looks with the light.

Really liking how the flair of green on the end of the fender looks with the light.

the 1957 Triumph Freebird engine rebuild continues.

All mocked up with the rocker boxes sitting on top, the alloy pre unit head is all but done.

All mocked up with the rocker boxes sitting on top, the alloy pre unit head is all but done.

There are a lot of jobs that cannot be finished until parts get back from chrome, so anything that can be done in the meantime is what is being done around here. There was another set of rocker covers that was polished, but they were for an iron head. After switching to an alloy head, these boxes were polished up and reassembled using the new brass parts. The oil passages were all blown and poked out and new seals used in the job. The O-rings the inspection caps came with were probably fine functionally, but I really like the red line the vintage fibre seals make.

There are a lot of jobs that cannot be finished until parts get back from chrome, so anything that can be done in the meantime is what is being done around here. There was another set of rocker covers that was polished, but they were for an iron head. After switching to an alloy head, these boxes were polished up and reassembled using the new brass parts. The oil passages were all blown and poked out and new seals used in the job. The O-rings the inspection caps came with were probably fine functionally, but I really like the red line the vintage fibre seals make.

Cadmium plated hardware for this bike and some others back from the plating shop. One more of the time-consuming jobs that go along with this sort of work. Having everything in organizing boxes makes the rebuild a lot smoother.

Cadmium plated hardware for this bike and some others back from the plating shop. One more of the time-consuming jobs that go along with this sort of work. Having everything in organizing boxes makes the rebuild a lot smoother.

The cylinders were blasted in prep for some paint. They are at the powder coat shop now getting a baked-on ceramic silver paint job.

The cylinders were blasted in prep for some paint. They are at the powder coat shop now getting a baked-on ceramic silver paint job.

Took the alloy head to Big D Cycles for some new valves, springs and guides. There were several helicoils and a spark-hole insert placed into stripped screw holes, and some new exhaust spigots were put in.

Took the alloy head to Big D Cycles for some new valves, springs and guides. There were several helicoils and a spark-hole insert placed into stripped screw holes, and some new exhaust spigots were put in.

Just waiting on the clutch actuator arm and some case screws to come back from chrome to finish the gearbox assembly.

Just waiting on the clutch actuator arm and some case screws to come back from chrome to finish the gearbox assembly.

The bottom end waiting for the cylinders to come back. Studs are all back in the block.

The bottom end waiting for the cylinders to come back. Studs are all back in the block.

While putting the first cylinder base stud in, it occurred to me that a set of nuts welded to handles would make installation easier. The time it can take to extract a stud can be a few minutes if it is really stuck, if the wrenches slip off the nuts or round off the nuts edges, or if you drop the nuts or stud in the case. The other problem is that it messes up the finish of the nuts even if the edges are still good. This simple tool takes away those problems and the install/removal takes less than 30 seconds. I have used the double nut method for stud extraction and installation for years, but after seeing how well these work, there are some other common sizes that would be useful to have around the shop. Both tools are identical and the handles are slightly bent to clear adjacent screws and the timing case.

While putting the first cylinder base stud in, it occurred to me that a set of nuts welded to handles would make installation easier. The time it can take to extract a stud can be a few minutes if it is really stuck, if the wrenches slip off the nuts or round off the nuts edges, or if you drop the nuts or stud in the case. The other problem is that it messes up the finish of the nuts even if the edges are still good. This simple tool takes away those problems and the install/removal takes less than 30 seconds. I have used the double nut method for stud extraction and installation for years, but after seeing how well these work, there are some other common sizes that would be useful to have around the shop. Both tools are identical and the handles are slightly bent to clear adjacent screws and the timing case.

Seriously, 30 seconds or less.

Seriously, 30 seconds or less.

The primary cover just waiting for the rest of the engine.

The primary cover just waiting for the rest of the engine.