Some hints on Sunbeams

I think we can all benefit from some of the great advice given to my brother by Archie Beggs as an introduction to the joys of vintage Sunbeam ownership:

“To start from cold, flood carb fully, set ignition halfway advanced (some bikes need more). Do not kick it on the stand (these are a bit fragile).

Put bike in bottom gear and wind it back on compression. Then lift the clutch lever fully at the same time pulling back, whereupon you will feel the clutch plates “unstick”.

Select neutral give slight throttle and swing the kickstart smartly but not a vicious kick and if the bike is in good condition it should start.

When started, check the tell-tale is about 1/4″out showing the oil is getting there. This is vital if taps or anti wet-sumping valves have been fitted.

Before putting the bike in gear pause a moment with clutch fully lifted in order to allow the clutch stop (if one is fitted) to slow the clutch to stop and ensure a silent bottom gear engagement without scrunching the gears.

Refrain from being brutal with the gear lever as on the flat tank models the pivot is riveted and soldered to the tank bottom and may be forced loose and cause leaks. Re-soldering the bracket is very difficult as the deposit from the petrol cannot be accessed for cleaning and the solder will not take.

With the cork clutch the plates run oily and I find auto transmission fluid to be suitable, excess slipping causes overheating and severe clutch drag, so get neutral if you are waiting in traffic.

When adjusting clutch, first ensure the lever on the bridge comes right back (cable not tight) so full travel is attained. Then see that the pushrod is free not end loaded and holding the pressure off

When fitting new plates, particularly if Ferodo, be sure that they are wide enough and do not “bottom” on the end of the gearbox mainshaft.

Oil the valve stems before use and put a teaspoonsful of oil to each gallon of petrol to oil the stems

I use the old KLG M80 for normal running and M100 for “blinding” so source modern equivalent but not ones with internal gaps or resistors.

Check tappets when the engine is really hot and make sure there is a couple of thou’ play by feel not the gauge.

Check the three rear wheel bolts after each run and also the stand bolts.

Drain fuel if the bike is left for more than a week and filter before refilling. When drained put a bit of oil in the tank to deter rust,

Do not start the bike in the workshop but in the open and if you start indoors locate fire extinguisher first. Particularly this applies to vintage Rudges.

Use the soft black linings for front brake -this works.

Check gearbox sprocket occasionally

I have always preferred to drain my oil tank when the bike is in only occasional use using a 1/4″ bore plastic pipe and syphoning it out while hot into a large plastic bottle. While this is messy and a nuisance to do, a look at the bottom of the bottle after it has settled for days may convince you it was worth the trouble and as a result all my oil tanks are clean and do not have an 1/8″ of sludge in the bottom. And the engines last longer.

To adjust clutch stop, slack it off fully then lift clutch, then screw it in till you feel the handlebar lever begin to respond to the pressure and try to lift.

Spark plug gap 16 to 20 thou’ not greater

Sunbeam oil regulator orifice sizes

No 1 .046”, 3/64”, No. drill 56

No 2 .060”, 1/16”, No. drill 53

No 3 .077”, 5/64”, No. drill 47

These are the nearest sizes that I can give.”

 

Sunbeam Model 90 Works Replica Toolbox

The talented Martin Shelley has reproduced a new toolbox assembly to fit saddle tank Model 90 and 95 Sunbeam motorcycles 1929 – 34. This was made as an exact copy of the toolbox and mounts from the only known surviving 1930 works TT Model 90 and features a soldered box with leather front, correct lockable latch, and alloy feet cast in heat treated LM25 and supplied with 1/4” BSF fasteners as per original.

You can see the original box on the 1930 Model 90 that was discovered north of the border a few years ago. Whilst I have yet to fulfil my ambition to examine and scrutinise every inch of that bike I was happy to put my money where my mouth is and buy one of these lovely boxes myself.

Get them while they are hot direct from Martin for a very reasonable £250. Or you could buy the cast feet separately for £50 a pair. If you are interested, why not drop Martin a line on this email marticelli@gmail before they are all gone.

Look nice fitted to this delightful Model 90 so they do.

Sunbeam Model 6 Longstroke and Lion pistons now available

Due to a technical problem (I forgot!) the 77mm Model 6 longstroke pistons weren’t available in the shop. I only have a few in standard and +0.040″ oversize so please get in touch if you need a high quality forged piston in your 1925 to 1929 vintage Sunbeam sidevalve.

They can be modified by Chris Odling for use in later engines with the recirculating oil system.

I’m building a 1927 Model 6 motor at the moment that came with a 1928 Model 6 that I purchased recently and one of these should work very well in the new engine.

New Sunbeam CT gears arrive from Chris Odling

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On return from a weeks holidays in Marrakech last week I was delighted to find a box from Chris Odling containing two lovely new sets of minty-fresh CT wide case gears. These particular cogs are the close-ratio type and are suitable for many of the later Model 9 and Model 90 bikes. I needed two sets as the set in my own ’30 bike are on loan from Archie Beggs and need to be replaced. Being suitable for both the 1928 and 1930 bikes, the second set will sit on the shelf in case I have any more problems.

These gears were made to order by Chris in a small batch of different ratios and widths, so get in touch fast if you think you might be in need of a set now or in the near future as they won’t be around for long.

Marston Sunbeam Northern Run, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria

I only just arrived in time for the Sunday run-out organised by Geoff Brazendale as part of the Marston Sunbeam Northern Run at Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. And I do hope you enjoy the rather eloquent comment on proceedings provided by this pair of ‘beams from either side of the Scottish border.

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The run kicked off at 10am from the Fat Lamb at Ravenstonedale and took in 25-30 miles of the excellent local roads. Nobody in our group seemed to know where we were going and so we just found our own way round until coming across some bright spark with a map of the route. The earlier rain had long since past leaving wet roads but the autumn colours along the way were a delight.

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Archie Beggs and Kenny Crawford were in fine form on the Model 9 and 90 respectively having also made the run up to the lakes that morning. And it was great to have a fine collection of flat tank models as well as a variety of the later saddle tank.

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Sunbeam gears to be re-manufactured

CT gears

Always a hot topic whenever owners meet, the Sunbeam 3-speed crash box gearbox is not perhaps the bike’s crowning glory. Whilst the original Marston gears did last surprisingly well, most are now “long in the tooth” with wear causing all manner of engagement and selection issues.

Stepping up to the plate once more, the redoubtable Chris Odling is planning to produce a small batch of new gears and I, for one, will certainly be purchasing a couple of much needed sets for my own bikes.

Here follows the note received from Chris…

“I have commissioned  new gear sets for Sunbeams. These are for the narrow and wide sliding pinion gearboxes. There will be BT and CT ratios manufactured. All those interested in a set please contact me to place an order. Delivery dates will be announced shortly. It is envisaged that a deposit will be required near the point of completion and following receipt of the gear sets I will ask for the remainder and deliver them. Final cost of a gear set is not written in stone as yet, but expect around £490.00

The number of gear sets presently ordered is 20, of which a few are already allocated. This number can be increased according to interest.

After the sets have been made I envisage a few spares i.e. sliding pinions and lay shafts.”

Contact: Chris Odling

Tel: 01852 300191

e-mail:  chris@odshed.co.uk

Druid fork handlebar clamps

I was short of a set of handlebar clamps for the ’28 bull nose Model 90 that we are working on and so had a few sets cast and machined-up using an original Marston clamp from the ’30 bike as a pattern. They came out quite nicely in high-tensile brass and will be serving in place of decorations over the Christmas period.

Handlebar clamps for Sunbeam motorcycles with Druid rather than the later Webb-type forks.

Handlebar clamps for Sunbeam motorcycles with Druid rather than the later Webb-type forks.

I had a few extra sets produced and will put them on the shop in due course in case anyone out there is also in need of a set.

 

Sunbeams at the National Motorcycle Museum

Many thanks to Rob from Racing Lines Derby for a grand day out at the TT riders Association luncheon yesterday. This annual celebration of TT riders past and present  was held at the National Motorcycle Museum. Whilst Nick Jeffries acted as MC, we shared a table with the legendary and apposite John Cooper. Others present included 5-times in a week TT winner Ian Hutchinson and Triumph factory rider Percy Tait. Publisher and TT rider Malcolm Wheeler rode into dinner on a Ducati to take over presidency of the association.

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Beforehand, we squeaked a couple of hours to check-out one or two of the many wonderful exhibits.

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It is of course impossible to do justice to such a collection so I didn’t bother. Instead, I took a lot of photos of the Sunbeams on display which included a number that were restored by our good friend Peter Woodward. These included a Model 80, Model 9 and two Model 90s and they can be seen in the gallery together with many other detail shots.

Debates about provenance may continue in certain circles but the 1925 Sunbeam Sprint must be one of the most beautiful bikes in the museum.

Ex-Dance racer, unbeatable in its day

Ex-Dance racer, unbeatable in its day

Art-deco masterpiece

Art-deco masterpiece