The battle with UGLY BETTY continues, so now armed with more sanders, cloth and paint remover I
will set  about the beast as I start into “Speedy’s” extreme makeover. The wheels will take the
longest to get anywhere near pleasant but its been done before so I’m looking at around 3 hours a
piece and some sore and battered fingers. This can all be done while the paint is drying interspersed
with yet more polishing of the alloy bits. As my good old drill sergeant in the R.A.F. would tell me
“Mr Down, if it’s alloy or brass it WILL shine!”

Man these are grim! and more flats than a 3p piece!!

The new sanders are in action early today and the workshop is a scene of rust & dust as many parts
gather on the bench and get ready for painting. The frame is sanded but needs that one lug re-welded
so that must wait for Monday but the exhaust system gets the once over and the Pernod blue is finally
removed from the front stays. A day long battle on the yokes continues but by nightfall they are ready for
first polishing and, though I say so myself look pretty sharp! Every bolt, washer and nut gets the sander
treatment and I may now be one of the few people without a finger print as my digits have been buffed
to perfection!

No more Pernod !

That cleaned up well too

First go at restoring the fork legs

While I’m waiting for some of the other parts time to take on the tank/seat unit where “Shade Tree” has
been at work. With all this hideous heavy plastic I’ve never been impressed with self tapping
wood screws on a trials bike but it seems that was the way it was put together. Clearly my old friend,
Shade had an odd ball collection so a variety of Phillips, Flatheads and Allens have been used
connecting the seat and the front and rear assemblies. The recovering of the seat is hardly an
upholsterer’s dream. If you want leather to go round curves then you have to cut it to shape to avoid all
the bumps and wrinkles! Oh well more work here but another task that has been done many times so
not a major problem.

The nasty yellows of tank and seat base are now in the hot water vat soaking ready for their final
cleaning and painting. The horrid little footrests took their first coat along with the rear shocks and
springs. Front stays and exhaust got a night time painting session so daylight will reveal what I

The “Ali look” for stays and exhaust

Today its time to prep the motor with a lot of washing and then that too can get the new paint along with
the tank and seat unit. Time to order the “new” parts from the UK, namely fork seals, front brake cable,
the two part clutch cable and maybe the tank decals which were broken on arrival. Might as well find out
oil capacities for the motor and forks as this thing is a first for me.

If I get downtown Cortez today the search will be on for some grey leather and a bit of alloy to make a
comp plate to grace the newly polished yokes. Well that didn’t happen, but on a positive side Megan
welded the lug back on for nothing and the tank and seat unit got a good scrubbing. Brakes were
dismantled, cleaned and brake plates painted. One small dribble on the exhaust but quickly sanded
off and refinished. Next up the frame and a first coat in metallic gold. Then to see if the plastic would
take the high gloss black which it did without orange peeling, crazing or running. Maybe I’m getting
better at this painting job. Tomorrow its engine time and then first attack on the less than pretty akronts
and spokes.

Re-welded and sanded ready for some paint

The new look “John Player Special” gold frame

First coats of gloss black for the plastics

It has to be the engine today! Covered in grease and grot with a fair bit of abuse time to see what a
good scrub can do before it too gets the paint treatment. Seems the chain came off at some stage and
smashed the front end retaining clamp and appears to have cracked the guard mount on the motor.
Shade tried to “JB weld” the area but as expected just left an unholy mess. Amazingly the wheel
bearings are still good and the sprockets and rusty chain were changed before it was put away wet
many years ago. It did have a decompressor fitted although the cable and lever were both broken so
yet more bits to rebuild and source.

Scruffy but clean!

The painted engine has that “fresh” look and after a lot of scrubbing in the big sink the wheels at least
looked demi presentable apart from the “flats” everywhere on the rims. One sheet of emery later, all 36
spokes have had their individual cleaning on both sides and look 10 times better. Autosol brings back
the rim! Just the front one to do, if the fingers can take the pain, then go and find a tire shop who has a
rim bender to try and put the flats back in the round….. used to do this on the Bobcat wheels when my
Mexican Army drove them over rocks and concrete and knocked the tires off the rims.

Fresh in black with just the fins to cut

So with only the front wheel to go time to be PATIENT and not try and do things too quickly until the
paint has hardened. Wheel finally done and the rim and spokes have their shine once more but the
rim itself has been tested to destruction by who knows who and has more flats on it than a 3 penny
piece! Last time I saw a flat this bad on a rim was when I crashed the Ossa on Rannoch Moor during
the 1975 Scottish and knocked 2″off the wheelbase. A while spent looking at those gold rims and
wondering how quickly they could be done and rebuilt?

So all that remains is the side cutting on the fins to give it that “Harley” look. Should take about 3 hours
but it really does make the engine look very special even if the rest still looks like crap! Fins now all
re-cut and once more the motor looks new apart from the obvious defects and has now been
reinstalled in the frame with all the Battleship hardware on the head. A visit to Cortez for the seat
leather went well but I feel I got ripped off, but no matter the task is done. The wheel saga continues
with 2 tire shops telling me its not possible, and even after explaining its not for road use I still couldn’t
find the tool so I will have to devise something myself. Perhaps the gizmo that turns off the mains
water ?

Refined and re-finned!


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  • 11/19/2009 5:32 PM Mike B wrote:
    Hi Tony,I really enjoy your articles especially your adventures in restoring vintage bikes. I am currently restoring a TY175 and wonder if you could share with me some pointers in painting prep. When you repaint an item, say a frame, do you remove all existing paint and primer down to bare metal, remove just the paint or paint over the existing paint? Do you use a clear coat over paint? I’m going through the trouble of making the bike look better. I just want make sure it stays that way as long as possible. Any other pointers?


    Mike in CA
    Reply to this

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