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.

Rear wheel metal finishing and repair for the 1957 Triumph Freebird Bike.

Getting close to having the metal finishing done on the 1957 Triumph Freebird bike. The majority of parts are at the chrome shop, but some last minute parts still need to be chromed. Because the rim on the rear wheel brake panel was a little banged up and had been plated before (the previous plater probably buffed the steel to the point it is thin and easily bent,) it was replaced with a new one. The replacement was an aftermarket new unit that came painted and appeared to be a decent reproduction at a price of $145.

After stripping and drilling it out, it was obvious that the wheel panel rim was poorly aligned. Perhaps if I had noticed this before touching it, I would have sent it back and searched for a nice original one, but at this point I was committed to figure something out. There is an arm that mostly covers this area to the point it is barely visible on the assembled bike, but it cannot be left like this when so much effort has gone into making the rest of the bike right. When the rim was separated from the plate, none of the surface texture appeared beneath the rim, meaning the texture was from blasting after the parts were assembled, probably to prep for paint.

After stripping and drilling it out, it was obvious that the wheel panel rim was poorly aligned. Perhaps if I had noticed this before touching it, I would have sent it back and searched for a nice original one, but at this point I was committed to figure something out. There is an arm that mostly covers this area to the point it is barely visible on the assembled bike, but it cannot be left like this when so much effort has gone into making the rest of the bike right. When the rim was separated from the plate, none of the surface texture appeared beneath the rim, meaning the texture was from blasting after the parts were assembled, probably to prep for paint.

The spot-welds on the rim were drilled out and the rim rotated to align it better, but there was no way to make it fit correctly around all the posts, so the area around the threaded post seen at the top of the picture was ground a little to make it look right. Looking into the drilled holes on the rim, you can see how far off the rim was rotated from the backing plate.

The spot-welds on the rim were drilled out and the rim rotated to align it better, but there was no way to make it fit correctly around all the posts, so the area around the threaded post seen at the top of the picture was ground a little to make it look right. Looking into the drilled holes on the rim, you can see how far off the rim was rotated from the backing plate.

After welding and grinding, it is as if nothing was ever done. The added benefit to separating the ring from the plate was that it was easier to polish out the sand-blast texture with the ring removed, and that after welding, there are no divots from the spot-welds present.

After welding and grinding, it is as if nothing was ever done. The added benefit to separating the ring from the plate was that it was easier to polish out the sand-blast texture with the ring removed, and that after welding, there are no divots from the spot-welds present.

Once again, a brand new Triumph Bonneville rear wheel brake drum fresh out of the box. This will be sent to chrome, but needs polishing.

Once again, a brand new Triumph Bonneville rear wheel brake drum fresh out of the box. This will be sent to chrome, but needs polishing.

The drum was first put on the lathe, and a considerable wobble could be seen on the rear surface while the machined inner side ran straight and true. After it was evened up, the surfaces were worked to get the remainder of the drum smoothed out and polished. Around the five o’clock on the drum there is an area of casting inclusions that will need filling.

The drum was first put on the lathe, and a considerable wobble could be seen on the rear surface while the machined inner side ran straight and true. After it was evened up, the surfaces were worked to get the remainder of the drum smoothed out and polished. Around the five o’clock on the drum there is an area of casting inclusions that will need filling.

An alloy head from a 1962 pre unit is being rebuilt for this build, but a frozen exhaust spigot needed removing. After three weeks soaking in kerosene punctuated by half a dozen heatings with a torch, there was zero movement. The answer was to take a dremel cutting wheel and score the inner part of the tube. By going just deep enough, small pieces could be removed with a pounding from above without hitting the fragile threads of the head. This was tricky, taking a couple hours, but the only other methods would involve the possibility of thread damage and the need to machine them again…not something you want to do if you don’t have to.

An alloy head from a 1962 pre unit is being rebuilt for this build, but a frozen exhaust spigot needed removing. After three weeks soaking in kerosene punctuated by half a dozen heatings with a torch, there was zero movement. The answer was to take a dremel cutting wheel and score the inner part of the tube. By going just deep enough, small pieces could be removed with a pounding from above without hitting the fragile threads of the head. This was tricky, taking a couple hours, but the only other methods would involve the possibility of thread damage and the need to machine them again…not something you want to do if you don’t have to.

The outer rim and first part of the port took a little damage, but that is easily dressed down. The threads are still crisp and the spigot screws in snuggly. The head was given a complete valve job with new guides pressed in.

The outer rim and first part of the port took a little damage, but that is easily dressed down. The threads are still crisp and the spigot screws in snuggly. The head was given a complete valve job with new guides pressed in.

The gear box adjuster for tensioning the primary chain was missing on this bike, so an NOS set of the needed parts was purchased and polished up in preparation of chrome plating.

The gear box adjuster for tensioning the primary chain was missing on this bike, so an NOS set of the needed parts was purchased and polished up in preparation of chrome plating.

Wire brushing all threads, bead blasting bigger parts, all in preparation for cadmium plating.

Wire brushing all threads, bead blasting bigger parts, all in preparation for cadmium plating.

Just like the gear shift shaft seen in the previous post, there was a lot of rust and pitting on the shifter guide plate. In the search for a new one, a lot of used pre-unit transmission parts was found that had two shift shaft quadrants and a guide plate for the price of what you have to pay for just the repop plate. The original shift shaft quadrant also had some severe pitting where the springs are perched and some smashed splines. The shifter fit over the splines just fine, but appearance-wise it needed changing. The spring perches, shaft surfaces and splines look great on the new shafts and these are evidently from a later model than what was in the original tranny, with a groove for an o-ring cut into it.

Just like the gear shift shaft seen in the previous post, there was a lot of rust and pitting on the shifter guide plate. In the search for a new one, a lot of used pre-unit transmission parts was found that had two shift shaft quadrants and a guide plate for the price of what you have to pay for just the repop plate. The original shift shaft quadrant also had some severe pitting where the springs are perched and some smashed splines. The shifter fit over the splines just fine, but appearance-wise it needed changing. The spring perches, shaft surfaces and splines look great on the new shafts and these are evidently from a later model than what was in the original tranny, with a groove for an o-ring cut into it.