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Old 01-02-2017, 09:12 AM   #1
Goldy
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Default 1949 Ariel Square four

Ok...new year, and a new project started. I have worked on dozens and dozens of British bikes over the past 40 years or so, but never a Square Four...so this is going to be a first "time 'round" for me. Any helpful input along the way would be very much appreciated.
I am doing this project for my old buddy Mike, who keeps me busy with this sort of thing. I will concentrate on the engine and drive train while he works on assembling the chassis. I have already rebuilt the forks for him and he is currently collecting bits and pieces to get the plunger rear end working. When the separate bits are done we will bring the chassis out here and finish the bike together...good times!
I started my end when Mike brought over a truckload of engine parts. The bits and pieces were loosely stashed in about ten half-rotten cardboard boxes. I started sorting through the stuff and managed to get it down to four cardboard boxes, a tote and an old milk crate. There are parts from three different engines...three sets of crank timing gears, a ton of tappets and guide blocks, three camshafts...one that is rusted to hell, one that is sandblasted to hell and a brand new one! A peach basket full of connecting rods and pistons (few of those pistons match) Four new piston kits, four new cylinder sleeves, a brand new set of tappets to match the cam, New con rod bearing shells. Two sets of rusty crankshafts, a head, cylinder block, generator, two distributors and all the necessary engine covers. Also three carburetors, two oil pumps and a bucket full of other odds and ends.

So...with parts and shop manual in hand, I was off to a good start. The other day I got busy and began selecting the best pair of cranks to start working on, cleaned and polished one of those "Briggs and Stratton-ish" connecting rods to make sure the new bearing inserts were going to work. Then disassembled the cranks for a thorough cleaning before I send them to the local machine shop to have a fresh regrind done to the throws and the timing side journal. This is going to be a pretty 'slow time' build, but eventually it will get done and hopefully it will be a reliable machine that Mike can enjoy riding.

Parts sorted and ready to begin work:



some useable con rods and some miss-matched pistons:



Cranks before:



Cranks after cleaning...ready for the machine shop:

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Old 01-02-2017, 11:28 AM   #2
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

This is going to be so cool. An old guy told me about a square 4 motorcycle when I was young and stupid - not much has changed - but I just could not believe that there was such a thing built. It seemed like a crazy idea.

There was no such thing as the Internet in those days so I had a chat with my dad who couldn't shed any light on this mysterious machine. I eventually went to our local library and finally found a book that articled this bike. Pretty amazing really, big old lump of an engine with exhausts that seem to appear from nowhere.

Always been interested in this old big since that day. Never will own one but this is as good as it gets, really looking forward to this build Goldy.

Bring it on, Dan.
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Old 01-02-2017, 12:26 PM   #3
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Agreed!
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Old 01-02-2017, 01:37 PM   #4
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

SquAriels are out of my league, but I've always thought they were pretty special. A friend had one he was "chopping" back in the early '70's. I don't know what direction you're going with this one, but turning it into a mild bobber, without cutting up any good stock pieces would allow it to be ridden while you're still searching for the hard to find stuff to do a full restoration. Good luck with it, and here's some inspiration, though a couple of these are MK IIs with the separate exhaust.





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Old 01-02-2017, 02:15 PM   #5
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

I got this picture at the Beaulieu motor museum, I call this style "dog taking a shit"; tail in the air, ears pinned back, front legs extended and haunches squatting.
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Old 01-02-2017, 02:42 PM   #6
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Well thats an intresting build!!
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Old 01-02-2017, 06:54 PM   #7
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

In 1963 my first job required a 30 mile commute each way. Needed some cheap transport, so I bought a new Honda 305 cc Super Hawk. It was fine for my daily commute, and I got to know a bunch of other bike commuters. One had an Ariel square four, it ran great during those couple of years I knew him, we worked on it a bit, different pipes, tune ups, I was always intrigued with that dual crankshaft setup.
Looking forward to you guys getting it going again....
Aloha,
Willy
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Old 01-03-2017, 01:49 PM   #8
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

This better not result in you not working on the Commando
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Old 01-03-2017, 02:29 PM   #9
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cycle Goon View Post
This better not result in you not working on the Commando
No worries, there will be plenty of time for that too...actually tinkering on it a bit today and spring is still a long, long way off.

Now, I need to start using my free time properly and get to work on one of MY projects!!!
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Old 01-04-2017, 08:37 AM   #10
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

I was browsing Craigslist and was shocked that there is a MKII Ariel for sale about 40 miles from me. $22k
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Old 01-04-2017, 12:27 PM   #11
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Goldy, you're so lucky!
Well deserved after 40+ yrs wrenching I guess.

Lester
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Old 01-06-2017, 11:50 AM   #12
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

there was one in town here when i was a teenager (60s). i remember thinking it sounded like an MG car motor when it was running.
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Old 01-06-2017, 04:20 PM   #13
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Was a fine Squariel custom in rootbeer flake showing up here and there in southeastern Michigan circa 1972-73.
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Old 01-06-2017, 07:44 PM   #14
Apehanger Hank
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

A friend had a Square 4 engine in a Sportster frame. I wanted one until I came to my senses and stopped owning British bikes.
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Old 01-08-2017, 03:44 AM   #15
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Quote:
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I wanted one until I came to my senses and stopped owning British bikes.
That's a bit harsh man. Nothing wrong with a British motor.
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Old 01-08-2017, 07:12 AM   #16
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

I think the square fours had a few things wrong with them. Delicacy being the foremost.
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Old 01-08-2017, 02:46 PM   #17
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That's a bit harsh man. Nothing wrong with a British motor.
if you like warm beer ;-)
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Old 01-13-2017, 05:35 AM   #18
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

No Photos this time. Got the rest of the con rods cleaned up/ polished and ready for fitting...bottom end bearings/ bushings are on the way.
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Old 01-19-2017, 05:18 PM   #19
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Still waiting for those bottom end bearings and bushings to come in, meanwhile here's a shot of the wheels...this was a real team effort as two of the late owner's pals wanted to help out as well. One guy laced and trued the new rims, another applied the paint and pinstripe and I mounted the tires. Mike took 'em home a couple of days later, he's slowly getting closer to having a rolling chassis, but is waiting for a few bits and pieces to come in so he can assemble the plunger suspension.

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Old 01-19-2017, 09:00 PM   #20
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldy View Post
Still waiting for those bottom end bearings and bushings to come in, meanwhile here's a shot of the wheels...this was a real team effort as two of the late owner's pals wanted to help out as well. One guy laced and trued the new rims, another applied the paint and pinstripe and I mounted the tires. Mike took 'em home a couple of days later, he's slowly getting closer to having a rolling chassis, but is waiting for a few bits and pieces to come in so he can assemble the plunger suspension.

Props to the painter/pinstriper...
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