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Discussion Starter #1
Probably not the best starting point for a first (ish) full restoration, but having looked for a project bike for a couple of months, and feeling that the price of projects were going up daily, i bought this one. A 1972 Bonneville in pretty poor condition. The last bike I bought in a similar condition was some boxes full of a Triton for £90, but that was 35 years ago!!


Having agreed the purchase remotely, it took nearly 2 months to actually get the bike to my home. In the meantime, regret had set in. I examined the photos forensically and started to spot more and more that made me question the purchase!! I realised that it had at some time been painted in Captain America (Easy Riders, Panhead) colours, although this wasn't at all obvious through the rust, which appeared to be commensurate with having been stored outside for a decade or two!!! I noticed the non standard Keihin carbs, not to worry, they look completely shot at!!! The more I looked the less I thought I had made a good decision. However the price wasn't horrific compared to some of the other projects I saw sold, and it did look like the frame and engine were usable, but I realised the forks would need replacing, but it did have new rim and spokes on the front wheel. My son discovered a likely reason for the new wheel when I got the bike, but more of that when I tell you about stripping it down.

I had already built a workshop to work on it in. This had been a year long project frequently helped by my brother-in-law and son. It gives me around 16 square metres of floor space attached to the back of my garage. Oh and the good lady wife did most of the painting.


The intention is to work towards a stereotypical Triumph Bonneville, rather than an authentic nut and bolt restoration. I do intend to reuse as many parts that I can salvage or refurbish as I can along with as many original parts as I can find. I realise though that I will have to make use of some reproduction parts, and I will probably use mostly new fasteners. I do have some mechanical knowledge and aptitude, and I am looking forwards to learning new skills along the way.
 

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You're a braver man than I am!

But I'm full of admiration for the skillset of anyone who even consider tackling such a job.

Good luck with it.
 

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looks like its gonna be a fun project. I've done many of these types of projects and in my experience if you want to do it all it costs just as much to restore a decent runner as it does a basket case so in the long run its a lot cheaper to start with a junker than a good bike. Good luck with it 0:)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
looks like its gonna be a fun project. I've done many of these types of projects and in my experience if you want to do it all it costs just as much to restore a decent runner as it does a basket case so in the long run its a lot cheaper to start with a junker than a good bike. Good luck with it 0:)
Thanks for the advice. I had thought this as well. There was the added factor that if it definitely needed to be done, I was more likely to do it than bodge it. Maybe through stupidity I am not to daunted by what is ahead!!
 

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Ditto, Flying Bulldog. If you are doing a full restoration, starting with a rough bike is no big deal as long as you bought it for a low price. After all you are going to take everything apart, repaint, rechrome, and replace worn parts anyway. What really kills the budget is to pay a fair bit for a bike that looks really good and then finding out you need to do almost a complete restoration on it anyway. Happened on my Trident. It looked really good when I bought it and I paid accordingly. Ended up doing a complete crank up rebuild of the engine, gearbox and primary. Also, rebuilt the forks, brakes, new wiring harness, new tires ect, ect. I've got way more invested in than it is worth.
 

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Ditto, Flying Bulldog. If you are doing a full restoration, starting with a rough bike is no big deal as long as you bought it for a low price. After all you are going to take everything apart, repaint, rechrome, and replace worn parts anyway. What really kills the budget is to pay a fair bit for a bike that looks really good and then finding out you need to do almost a complete restoration on it anyway. Happened on my Trident. It looked really good when I bought it and I paid accordingly. Ended up doing a complete crank up rebuild of the engine, gearbox and primary. Also, rebuilt the forks, brakes, new wiring harness, new tires ect, ect. I've got way more invested in than it is worth.
yeah that's exactly what happens - bikes that look and run pretty good command a decent price but to a restorer it's worth no more than a complete bike that doesn't run and looks like a total loss. You end up spending virtually the same amount to restore the good bike as you would on the junker.

If you want a rider and dont want to restore you should buy one that's already been done or the best you can find / afford. But if you intend to restore, bikes like the one above that go for peanuts are the perfect choice.

I have a bunch of examples I could post but I dont want to step all over the OP's thread. I look forward to seeing his project unfold.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
After what really did seem an age, and two broken delivery promises, the bike finally turned up. Not having a connected front brake, added a little fun into getting it out of the van. However accident free I got it straight into into my new workshop space, so I could spend a little time sitting on a seat that coordinated with the tank, check it out, surveying the bike. First impressions weren't too bad, I didn't spot anything that gave me more concern, than I already had. If anything it seemed a little better than I expected, but my expectations weren't that high.

I then took photos of everything I could from a number of angles so that I had some reference of what I am starting with. Although I didn't intend to restore it back to the Captain America look it had now, I thought it best to have something to remind me how some of the parts fitted together when it arrived. I then roped in my young niece to squirt WD 40 on everything that looked like a nut or a screw. Took her a while, but she did a good job.

I already knew the engine was seized, aren't they all!!! The kickstart was stuck partway through its stroke. I suspected that this was probably just one of the mechanical issues I would need to look at. I was worried that the spark plug threads in the head would be pretty ropey, so it was with some trepidation that I started to remove the plugs. After a little careful application of force, they actually came out pretty easily and I found that I had two different makes, one looked new, the other pretty old. This bike would have some very interesting tales to tell, mostly of torture from what I have seen so far!! :) I poured some light oil (I know everybody recommends diesel or Mystery Oil) in through the plug holes, hoping that it might just free the pistons up in the bore if I leave it in for a while.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Started to strip things down now. My son is a dab hand with a set of spanners, and soon had the mudguards off. To be honest there weren't may other parts to take off. We removed the tool tray, the air filter housing and side panels. Then took off the coil brackets and all of the other electrics. The wiring seemed better than I expected as we took it off, so I am hoping to reuse most of it.

I then removed the silencers, which were totally rusted through, the header pipes are solid, but don't have a place in my plans for this bike. I could use them with a wrap on them if it was some kind of custom, but I think new ones will be needed. The WD40 that my niece had liberally sprayed everywhere has soaked in well, and most fasteners are coming off reasonably easily.

The carbs are Keihins, and do look pretty poor, but the debris in the inlet pipe doesn't bode well for the rest that I am going to find. I can't work out what it is, I am hoping that it is general workshop dust and rubbish that has found its way in to mix with a little rust. Maybe sawdust and paint spray, living in hope.
 

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Ooooooo that looks UGLY in the intake.

My guess is one or both cylinders are going to be quite rust-frozen. Mix ATF and acetone 50/50, about a pint each, and dump in the cylinders. Let sit for a week.

Once you remove the head, see that you have no more than about 2-1/2" of cylinder depth above the piston crown, If more than that, you may be too close to BDC to knock the pistons down.

If you're good, take a section of 2x2 hardwood or a spare wooden hammer handle, set it on top of a piston, and smack it smartly with a 5# sledge hammer or large ball peen hammer. Alternate cylinders with 2-3 good smacks, and you should see progress.

If the pistons are too low, loosen ALL of the cylinder base nuts and set a stack of washers on top of one, then continue removing it; the washers will come up against the cylinder fin and start to pry it up. That should free off the cylinder from the block. Once it's totally free, place a small diameter 3/8" drive deep socket on each of the studs, then set the cylinders back down and go through the "smacking" process, above.

Cure? Yes. Effective? Absolutely.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Brilliant advice Paul. Thanks!!! You are 100% right about it being seized. Looking in the plug holes, and poking a screwdriver in, the pistons seem to be near TDC, just short of the piston crowns coming into the cylinder head. I am planning to have the head off this weekend. Was wondering, though, would it be worth heating the barrel before "hammer time"?

It looks like the bike has been very exposed, but interestingly, the underside of the mudguards are really clean. I mean really really clean, no mud, no rust, just the paint, metallic blue. The top of the rear mudguard is really pitted with rust, but I am still hoping to use it. I am worried that the inside of the engine might just be too full of water and rusted to redeem. So I am quite keen to get it apart.

The carbs are really rotten, but I have sourced a set of refurbished 930/R300's for a great price. I'm a bit worried at the moment that I may have jumped the gun buying any parts for this project yet!!
 

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Well, got the head off today, came off pretty easily to my surprise. Although I did lose a little time with the first rocker bolt on the bottom on the inlet side, kept losing track of which way to turn it, so spent 4 or 5 moves of the spanner taking it out, then another 4 or 5 tightening it until I spotted what I was doing, did it three or four times. Must be an age thing :)))

Some of the oil I had put in to try to free the pistons started leaking out of the joint pretty quickly, when I undid the head bolts. I was quite pleased that I had guessed this would happen had already placed some paper towel to catch it. It is very clear that some water was coming in through the left hand inlet, which wasn't the one with all of the debris in it. The head and valves have surface rust on that side, pretty sure the head will be OK, but I had hoped not to have to replace the valves unless I had to.

Both piston crowns and bores were a red swamp, of oil, rust and whatever other gunge had found its way in. Looked pretty ghastly, but cleaned up better than I would have expected, but the bores are very rusty and the pistons are firmly stuck. Looking on the head of the pistons I can see that one is marked +30, so that seems to indicate that it has had at least one rebore in its life. Oh, and one of the top fins is broken. I had noticed that before, probably a mishap when it was rebored, doesn't indicate careful work!!!

I think I am going to give the underside of the bike a clean and take off the primary and timing cover to undo all of the big bolts, before trying to free the pistons. As there is no chain I won't be able to use the put it in gear and press the brake method to lock the engine. You never know, because I am taking advantage of them being stuck they may just come free out of spite!!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Got the pressure washer out, and gave the underside of the bike a good "gunking" before washing off the encrusted grease and grime. I assume that the bike had been given a wash before being repatriated to the mother land, as there was no dirt whatsoever beneath the mudguards, and the underside of the engine and gearbox weren't actually too bad.

I had tried to put the bike on the centre stand, but it was obviously starting to lean over precariously so I knew the stand was a not straight. In order to drain the oil before further dismantling I needed to remove the centre stand as the bar across it is immediately below the drain plug.

The centre stand bolts proved to be the biggest fastener challenge so far. Removal involved more tools than I expected including a reasonably big hammer and a punch. when the nuts had been removed I was nearly convinced that the bolts were welded in. Eventually with a lot of persuading the did come out, and as expected the stand did have quite a twist to it, and the brackets on the frame will need a little careful restoration if I want to use a centre stand in future.
 

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I haven't got around to stripping the head yet. I have a valve spring compressor that I have owned for around 35 years, only used it on car valves before. Tried it on the head, but it doesn't clear the sides of the rocker housing, so I am looking to get another one. I will have to prioritise it now that I am worried about the valve seats!!!

Drained the oil from the oil tank, felt quite positive when I could see through it and it looked relatively clean. Positivity went a little down hill when I pulled the plug from the engine sump, a pint or so of rusty water came out! There was some oil in it but it doesn't look good for the bottom end!!

Removed the points and advance mechanism, managed to use what I think is actually a tool to use on valve guides as a puller. I bought a job lot of Triumph engine tools of eBay, took me a while to identify the valve guide tool, still got some that are a complete mystery so far.

Will take the timing cover off next!!
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Took the timing cover off. All of the screws are cross headed so may be the originals. I was expecting a bit of fight, so gave each of them a tap with an impact driver first. They all came out quite easily after that. Gave it a couple of taps with a rubber hammer and it came off quite easily.

There is some very light corrosion on the exhaust pinion, but otherwise it looks find in there. Next took off the oil pump. Not sure if the pump is ok, one of the plungers is a little discoloured. I am going to have to find out how to test it, but I am thinking of replacing it anyway.
 

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Might be worth having the cylinder aquablasted to clean it up
Seager engineering do repairs to exhaust stubs and fins and include a clean
 

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You might get lucky on the bottom end. Looks like the pistons are fairly close to tdc so the rod journals may not have been in water. I had an engine that way with water in it. Only had surface rust on the crank counterweight and that cleaned up and did no harm. Rod and main journals were pristine.
 
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