The nuts and bolts were so badly rusted that the engine had to be taken to the machine shop to open them. Once the engine was dismantled, it revealed some more horrors. Rust had pockmarked the barrel in such a way that it resembled the walls in a war zone and the valves were also shot. The open inlet valve had corroded so badly that bits and pieces of the valve head had fallen off giving it an appearance of being much smaller. Needless to say the valve seats were completely gone. The only silver lining was that the piston was of standard size but that was a very small consolation.
Till a few years back, spare parts for pre war British bikes that landed in the thousands were rather easily available but that is not the case anymore. Vikas found a standard sized piston set rather easily but to use that a sleeve had to be put in the barrel and Vikas was not ready to do that just yet. An original set of size 20 piston turned up after a wait of three months and after the barrel was rebored, it took in the new pistons and it certainly performs better than the engines that has sleeves in them. The fruits of patience can be sweet indeed.
Surprisingly, water in the chamber had not done much damage to the crankshaft and a slight polishing made it as good as ever. Even the big end bearing was fine but why take a chance. So in came a new bearing. New valves, guides and seats were fitted and while the valves were of British make, the guides and the seats were locally sourced. The 3HW was one of the few motorcycles of that period that had concealed valve gears and that probably saved the valve springs. Somebody had tried to crank the engine when the valves were jammed and as a result, one of the pushrods was bent.
A fellow enthusiast supplied an original set of pushrod. That’s what is called brotherhood of vintage lovers I guess. Oxidisation has left some very ugly sores on the barrel fins and it took ages to smoothen these out with a thin diamond file. People tend to overlook these small details but uneven barrel fins certainly affect cooling.
Compared to the engine, the gearbox was in a relatively better condition. The gearbox was packed with grease and thick gearoil and this probably saved the pinions but the bearings were not that fortunate. I have seen lot of classic bike enthusiasts who pack the gearbox with grease only in the belief that the grease reduces the friction and save the pinions. But this is not always the case. Gradually the grease gets accumulated to one corner of the gearbox and leaves the pinions high and dry causing extensive damages. The gearbox was stripped, cleaned, rebushed and with new bearings performed as good as new…well almost. This 3HW has one of the smoothest gearshifts that I have come across in a classic bike in a very long time. Anything more than a soft foot will engage a false neutral while downshifting from fourth to third gear and it can be very annoying indeed.
The tin work needed major surgery. Both the mudguards were rusted and instead of wasting time making innumerable trips to the auto spares market of Delhi’s Karol Bagh, Vikas just got new ones fabricated. The rear mudguard has two pieces and has an elevation running through its length. The welder has done a commendable job of perfectly matching the elevations of the two pieces. The front mudguard had no such breakup and that must have made the work that much easier.