This is why I can never get anything done! Polishing blues on the 1957 Triumph Freebird bike.

In an effort to save time, for the first (and perhaps the last) time, I sent polishing out. I have always done my own polishing, but wanted to try letting a “show chrome only” chrome shop do the polishing after the parts were prepped here at the shop. Although some parts looked great like the front wheel and rocker covers, the job on the gearbox was a huge disappointment.

The front face of the cover after it came back from the polisher. The receipt for the job stated “polished to a mirror finish.” I know these sand cast parts can have problems with porosity, but these pits are even worse than when it first left the shop due to polishing without sanding first.

The front face of the cover after it came back from the polisher. The receipt for the job stated “polished to a mirror finish.” I know these sand cast parts can have problems with porosity, but these pits are even worse than when it first left the shop due to polishing without sanding first.

Prior to disassembly, a good deal of time was spent leveling out the surfaces of the transmission case to the point the lines between them are almost invisible. After this picture, the tranny was totally disassembled and then the front and middle cases put back together for the polisher to finish out.

Prior to disassembly, a good deal of time was spent leveling out the surfaces of the transmission case to the point the lines between them are almost invisible. After this picture, the tranny was totally disassembled and then the front and middle cases put back together for the polisher to finish out.

This is how it came back, with valleys between the cases produced by polishing them separately and hitting the edges too hard. This shot really shows how bad it was at the top of the picture, where the line between the rear and middle case makes an obvious “V” where there was once a straight line.

This is how it came back, with valleys between the cases produced by polishing them separately and hitting the edges too hard. This shot really shows how bad it was at the top of the picture, where the line between the rear and middle case makes an obvious “V” where there was once a straight line.

Deja vu. A second sanding was done to level out the surfaces once more. The case walls are a little thinner after a second sanding, but not too bad.

Deja vu. A second sanding was done to level out the surfaces once more. The case walls are a little thinner after a second sanding, but not too bad.

If you want a true mirror finish, you have to sand first. Using a coarse polishing grit will make it shine, but instead of removing porosity, you just make it worse by elongating the pores like in the first picture in this post.

If you want a true mirror finish, you have to sand first. Using a coarse polishing grit will make it shine, but instead of removing porosity, you just make it worse by elongating the pores like in the first picture in this post.

The case lines are near invisible again after a high polish.

The case lines are near invisible again after a high polish.

Another fail from the polisher was that they used a DA sander to work the backside of the primary cover a little, but did not polish it out. This was after wet sanding and polish.

Another fail from the polisher was that they used a DA sander to work the backside of the primary cover a little, but did not polish it out. This was after wet sanding and polish.

The small end rod bushings came in so I was able to get the block put together.

The small end rod bushings came in so I was able to get the block put together.

The choke lever came without a mounting bracket, so some .050 brass was used to make one. These loops will be silver soldered to make them strong.

The choke lever came without a mounting bracket, so some .050 brass was used to make one. These loops will be silver soldered to make them strong.

Very secure once it is cinched down.

Very secure once it is cinched down.

Put some more parts in the finished tray after some patina was applied. The key and top portion of the choke lever have the patina they came with, the rest was made to match. The hinge was made a couple of years ago from sheet brass and tubing.

Put some more parts in the finished tray after some patina was applied. The key and top portion of the choke lever have the patina they came with, the rest was made to match. The hinge was made a couple of years ago from sheet brass and tubing.

1957 Triumph Freebird front wheel assembly, aluminum parts back from polish and more brass.

The bronze taillight with red glass lens was sanded, polished and darkened.

The bronze taillight with red glass lens was sanded, polished and darkened.

The bare taillight housing is made from two pieces of bronze taken from a messed-up cymbal i got from an old band mate.

The bare taillight housing is made from two pieces of bronze taken from a messed-up cymbal i got from an old band mate.

The gas cap was wire brushed and dulled with cerium oxide, then chemical dipped to get some patina back. There will be some natural darkening that will occur by the time the bike gets to Bornfree 11 in June.

The gas cap was wire brushed and dulled with cerium oxide, then chemical dipped to get some patina back. There will be some natural darkening that will occur by the time the bike gets to Bornfree 11 in June.

Just got this stuff back from the polisher. This is the first time ever to have someone do the polishing. It was kind of nice to miss out on the majority of the work getting them shiny.

Just got this stuff back from the polisher. This is the first time ever to have someone do the polishing. It was kind of nice to miss out on the majority of the work getting them shiny.

I couldn’t wait to lace up the wheel. A set of Buchanan stainless spokes was used. The conical hub uses four different spokes, so you have to do a little figuring to get it laced.

I couldn’t wait to lace up the wheel. A set of Buchanan stainless spokes was used. The conical hub uses four different spokes, so you have to do a little figuring to get it laced.

Another special tool. An aluminum slug with a pilot that fits the bore of the bushing and allows for fast easy bushing removal in a press or in this case, a vise.

Another special tool. An aluminum slug with a pilot that fits the bore of the bushing and allows for fast easy bushing removal in a press or in this case, a vise.

The two small-end rod bearings after removal. More evidence the “rebuild” on this engine was questionable at best. One bushing has been turned on the lathe at the end, and the other one had a chamfered inner edge and what looks like heat damage. A new set of .060 over pistons, rings and wrist pins as well as the rod bushings are on order.

The two small-end rod bearings after removal. More evidence the “rebuild” on this engine was questionable at best. One bushing has been turned on the lathe at the end, and the other one had a chamfered inner edge and what looks like heat damage. A new set of .060 over pistons, rings and wrist pins as well as the rod bushings are on order.

I found some brass rocker shaft nuts that were polished and darkened.

I found some brass rocker shaft nuts that were polished and darkened.

Until the hardware returns from plating, only a small amount of assembly can be done. The mainshaft bearing, keeper and seal were installed after the seal was removed from the inside face of the sealed bearing. Digging on the shine on this gearbox!

Until the hardware returns from plating, only a small amount of assembly can be done. The mainshaft bearing, keeper and seal were installed after the seal was removed from the inside face of the sealed bearing. Digging on the shine on this gearbox!

The special tool made to press out the small-end rod bushings is perfect for installing the layshaft bushings in the transmission.

The special tool made to press out the small-end rod bushings is perfect for installing the layshaft bushings in the transmission.

All new bearings and bushes in the engine and tranny.

All new bearings and bushes in the engine and tranny.

Brass bits for the 1957 Triumph freebird, 1993 Harley-Davidson FXR update

Getting the brass components ready while the other parts of the bike are out for chrome and paint. The patina is being worked on to get everything a little more uniform. The idea is to get everything into a range between amber and light brown.

Getting the brass components ready while the other parts of the bike are out for chrome and paint. The patina is being worked on to get everything a little more uniform. The idea is to get everything into a range between amber and light brown.

The four pieces on the left are wearing their time-earned patina and will largely be left alone.

The four pieces on the left are wearing their time-earned patina and will largely be left alone.

The rocker box covers were an online purchase that went through a good buffing to soften the edges and then darkened.

The rocker box covers were an online purchase that went through a good buffing to soften the edges and then darkened.

The foot rests were milled to give a little tread. I think these are going to be called the “peanut” treads. The way brass grabs a thin mill bit made for some wandering on the lines, but I like the way it looks.

The foot rests were milled to give a little tread. I think these are going to be called the “peanut” treads. The way brass grabs a thin mill bit made for some wandering on the lines, but I like the way it looks.

Another online purchase, this kickstart pedal was ground down and contoured to clean the lines up.

Another online purchase, this kickstart pedal was ground down and contoured to clean the lines up.

Brass is soft and easy to work and shines up nicely.

Brass is soft and easy to work and shines up nicely.

This is where it started.

This is where it started.

Finally getting some work done on the 1993 H-D FXR. The starter and primary were put back on and these exhaust pipes were fitted.

Finally getting some work done on the 1993 H-D FXR. The starter and primary were put back on and these exhaust pipes were fitted.

The new pulleys and drive belt are in place and look to be a good fit. This will allow the rear fender to be cut for belt clearance. The original kickstand was heated and straightened.

The new pulleys and drive belt are in place and look to be a good fit. This will allow the rear fender to be cut for belt clearance. The original kickstand was heated and straightened.

Going to modify the rear tank mount to make it follow the frame a little more.

Going to modify the rear tank mount to make it follow the frame a little more.

Somewhere they sell a tool that does what this one does, but on a Sunday afternoon, the best solution was to make one. The Vise-grip style clutch tool I usually use does not grab the clutch basket tightly, but this one is very solid and will not slip off.

Somewhere they sell a tool that does what this one does, but on a Sunday afternoon, the best solution was to make one. The Vise-grip style clutch tool I usually use does not grab the clutch basket tightly, but this one is very solid and will not slip off.

I forgot to get a picture of the tool in use, but had the chance to get this one after forgetting to put the starter shaft in first, making the primary drive removal necessary one more time.

I forgot to get a picture of the tool in use, but had the chance to get this one after forgetting to put the starter shaft in first, making the primary drive removal necessary one more time.

Starting the 1957 Triumph Freebird engine rebuild, prepping parts for cad plating

Me: I need the special tool to remove the clutch basket. Can you tell me if I will need any other special tools to do a Triumph preunit engine rebuild?

Motorcycle store dude: No, you really only need that one tool, you really don’t need the cam removal tool as those bushings are usually good.

Listen to advice, but don’t stop listening to your instincts. Turns out I needed a special tool to get the crankshaft pinion gear off to pull the crank and clean the sludge trap, change main bearings, remove the left connecting rod, etc…Once the engine halves were separated, an alarming amount of slop was felt in the cam bushings on the clockcase side. Even more alarming, they were spinning! These are supposed to be a pressed-in friction fit with oiling passages that need to be precisely aligned in the engine case. I ordered the cam bushings and cam gear removal tool hoping for the best.

Once the cams were removed, some of the ugliness can be seen. When you hear the term that someone “smoked the bearing,” this is what it looks like. The area around the cams was smoked too. The spinning bushing would have aligned the oiling hole intermittently, but obviously not enough. At this point I am thinking the case bores will have to be welded and re-bored or oversize bushings and a bore job are going to be needed.

Once the cams were removed, some of the ugliness can be seen. When you hear the term that someone “smoked the bearing,” this is what it looks like. The area around the cams was smoked too. The spinning bushing would have aligned the oiling hole intermittently, but obviously not enough. At this point I am thinking the case bores will have to be welded and re-bored or oversize bushings and a bore job are going to be needed.

Before finding the problem with the bushings, I was tempted to just leave the bottom end alone as the guy I bought it from said he had done a complete rebuild when he was in mechanics school, and everything seemed in really good shape as it was being broken down. My suspicion is the loose bushing problem was a result of that rebuild. It was a huge relief to discover the looseness was due to the bearing being undersize. The bearing was visibly smaller and scored from being turned on a lathe. No need for repair on the bore.

Before finding the problem with the bushings, I was tempted to just leave the bottom end alone as the guy I bought it from said he had done a complete rebuild when he was in mechanics school, and everything seemed in really good shape as it was being broken down. My suspicion is the loose bushing problem was a result of that rebuild. It was a huge relief to discover the looseness was due to the bearing being undersize. The bearing was visibly smaller and scored from being turned on a lathe. No need for repair on the bore.

The turned bush is two tenths of a millimeter smaller!

The turned bush is two tenths of a millimeter smaller!

E3275 cams are supposed to be the long ramp grind that deliver low-end torque.

E3275 cams are supposed to be the long ramp grind that deliver low-end torque.

Made up some aluminum drifts to install the cam bushings.

Made up some aluminum drifts to install the cam bushings.

The tank package rack had some small gaps around the feet that were bothering me. Filling them with steel was not too appealing as the filling was needed in a place that is really tough to sand and smooth down. Instead of steel, brass was brazed in the gaps.

The tank package rack had some small gaps around the feet that were bothering me. Filling them with steel was not too appealing as the filling was needed in a place that is really tough to sand and smooth down. Instead of steel, brass was brazed in the gaps.

The nice things about brass brazing is that it flows nicely and needs only a little sanding.

The nice things about brass brazing is that it flows nicely and needs only a little sanding.

Funny how some things that were okay on this piece a few years back when it was made are now needing refinement. The original plan was for this bike to be a bobber with some vintage touches, made to be a solid rider, but nothing close to a show bike. I was thinking it would not be too hard to take it up to show level initially, but everything has been revised in some way or another.

Funny how some things that were okay on this piece a few years back when it was made are now needing refinement. The original plan was for this bike to be a bobber with some vintage touches, made to be a solid rider, but nothing close to a show bike. I was thinking it would not be too hard to take it up to show level initially, but everything has been revised in some way or another.

Now that the cams are out, the case half can be polished. This was after hours of hand sanding, worked to 3500 grit level.

Now that the cams are out, the case half can be polished. This was after hours of hand sanding, worked to 3500 grit level.

The only way to get that smooth surface without waves in the finish is to block it out by hand.

The only way to get that smooth surface without waves in the finish is to block it out by hand.

After buffing with black compound and then green, it is finally done.

After buffing with black compound and then green, it is finally done.