1969 Triumph Bonneville 2014 Rebuild


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The last time I went through the Bonneville was 2002. After that rebuild the Bonneville saw a fair amount of use, not as a daily rider mind you but still, it made several trips to the Riding into History show, trips to Daytona, and it got used to run errands and cruise around on. Finally it developed several problems that gradually lead me to just not ride it any more.


After finishing the Cafe version of Bella

The Cafe Side of Life  

I felt it was time for another rehab, the old girl had earned it.


When I started the 2002 rebuild the bike looked like this.





After that rebuild it looked like this.





And now it looked like this.





When I built Bella I put it together with an upgraded charging system but the original point and coil ignition system. With new carbs I was very pleased with how well it started, idled, and ran. The '69 still had the 800cc Routts kit and the Hunt magneto. Between these two the bike has always been a bit miserable to start and at my age it has become intolerable. Bella is a one, on occasion two, kick starter. Further more, stroking it through is a breeze, reminding me of just how foolish I was in my youth.


For this rebuild I purchased a new, standard barrel and piston assembly. In addition, the magneto is going and in it's place will be new coils, points, and condensers. I also sourced new, standard cams to replace the Harmon and Collins cams that were still in the cases. They and the followers were showing some wear so with their replacement I completed the return of the engine to it's original configuration. If the bike is as easy to start as Bella I will be very pleased.



Gone will be the Mity Max as well. The bike will get its first actual battery in about 40 years.



Gone too will be the last 12 years of grime.



Tear down was pretty straight forward.














This is the kick start crank shaft, and it is located in the right outer transmission cover. The one on the left was sourced from e-bay, the one on the right is the original. The damage that you see is, I am convinced, due to the Routts kit with it's large, high compression pistons. More evidence of the foolishness of youth. Fortunately, there isn't too much that you can't find on the internet.




And finally here. I find that a bore brush, caliber 45, works very well for this cleaning chore.





Once completely disassembled the repainting began. Lots of black stuff on an old Triumph.


As with most of my motorcycle projects, the Bonneville is a fill in project. It gets worked on when my main project, my Jag project, is either on hold or, in the case of painting, I am already doing some for the Jag. If you look closely, in the back ground you can see the gas tank for the Jag. Since the black was already out and being shot it was easy to shoot bike stuff as well.




And, more pieces prepped.





Both the oil tank and the fuel tank had leaks which would have to be addressed.









Once I had enough frame pieces prepared I began reassembly. This old bike and I have been here many times before.



I was also able to get the front hub repainted. This allowed for the reassembly of both wheels. The rims are SS from England and the spokes, also SS, are from Buchanan. I was disappointed to find that Buchanan didn't offer the wheels when I needed them. Perhaps that will change.



I had pretty good luck with the truing, however, the point where the rim is welded has a wobble on both wheels. I have run into this before on Dunlop rims but was hoping that these would be welded straighter. The wobble isn't bad, and I was careful not to try too hard to pull it out, so I don't think it will be a problem. But, the shouldered, Exel rims that I got from Buchanan for Bella were much straighter at the weld. 




Once I got tires and tubes mounted I had a rolling chassis and could move on to the engine.




All the bearings are getting replaced mostly as a matter of course.






Putting the engine back in the frame with out scratching the new paint is always a hassle. This time I tried a couple of things before finally succeeding. The first was laying the engine on its side and lowering the bike around it. Because the '69s have a non-removable front mount you always have to get the engine high enough in the frame to clear. This can be accomplished when placing the engine in the frame by hand but I just couldn't get every thing manipulated well enough to make that work using this method.


What I finally did was to place a piece of ply wood across the lower frame rails with the frame in it's normal, up-right position. This allowed me to manipulate the engine into place by hand with out scratching any thing. Then, I used the hoist to raise it up enough to get the ply wood out and lower the engine into the front mount.  This worked pretty well and I didn't get any scratches.



At this point I got stopped waiting on the oil tank. It needs the leaks welded up and repainted. I also need to deal with the head.


My original head had several problems which, when I was building the Liquid cooled head, were resolved.


Click Liquid Cool

to see about that.



 When I replaced that head in 2002 with the original, I "got by" with those problems. However, I really needed to address them this time around.


Over the years I had replaced valve guides a couple of times as they would come loose. And, I could see that the seats were beginning to recede into the head. I tried to find a shop that I could trust to install hard seats but nothing presented it self. So, finally, I bought a head that I found on e-bay figuring that I could do the necessary machine work myself on the original head at a later date.


You always have to be careful when buying on e-bay but I called the seller and he assured me that the head was in good shape and correct for my bike. Well, it was in pretty good shape, carrying what appeared to be new valves and guides. However, it was from an  earlier year. This resulted in problems with the pushrod tube sockets being the wrong height. I looked at the possibility of sourcing all the components to correct this but it was a slippery slope that drug me farther and farther down the path.


So, I regrouped and set out to machine the head to accept the '69 pieces. Fortunately, the older head had shallower sockets and this afforded me the material to do that.


click here

to see about that.



Gradually, as time would permit, the bike began to come together. Sorting the wiring did take some fiddling, which was a little annoying, but eventually with good results.


Another minor annoyance involved was the chrome on the engine mount plates. They needed to be redone but the plating shop that I had been using had become intolerable to deal with. I am sure that there will be many who read this and immediately shout that they know a good place. Well, I was really looking for some where to take the pieces that was within driving distance so that I could look at the shop myself and get a feel for how they did business. I also wanted to be able to look at the pieces prior to taking delivery. Once burned....  But I didn't have much luck. Back in the day there seemed to be a chrome plating shop on every corner but no longer.


Any way, what I decided to do was make new plates out of SS. This would mean that I would be done with the plating shops, at least for the plates. It also meant that I would still have the original pieces that I could strip and paint black as was actually more correct.


Go here

to see about that.

Work on the tank finally got done. Go here to see about that.


Tank and front fender.


And the final results look like this.








All in all I'm fairly pleased. The bike will never be a show winner as it's just not correct enough but I will enjoy riding it.