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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,
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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.

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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
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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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Old 01-20-2017, 12:53 AM   #21
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

You need to find a Shorrocks blower and have a bit of fun.

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Old 02-13-2017, 03:22 PM   #22
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

I was volunteering on a Corvette Drag Racing team in Orlando Florida back around 1969 and was given a 1958 Square Four MKII that had been altered a bit and given up on. Had it for two years, keeping it on the road was a chore at times but you could still get parts back then. Voltage regulators were a constant source of problems, cooling on the rear cylinders was always a concern, causing rear exhaust valves to stick in the guides (solved by adding a little caster oil to the gas). It was one of the fastest bikes around 0-65 and then it ran out of gears. I made a larger trans sprocket but it just didn't have the horsepower to cover the taller gear ratio. The exhaust would build up an oily residue in the pipes and when getting off the freeway it shoot big balls of fire from the stacks. Alas I discovered Harleys and eventually sold the bike.
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Old 02-13-2017, 05:34 PM   #23
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Great pics Pony!
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Old 02-14-2017, 12:53 AM   #24
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

...and great first hand experience in-put

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Old 02-14-2017, 06:25 AM   #25
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

and, still waiting for parts...sigh....
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Old 02-14-2017, 01:54 PM   #26
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

You might enlist the help of our brothers from the other side of the pond for any leads to possible parts suppliers. The head gasket could be an issue due to age as I had problems even back then. I eventually bit the bullet and surfaced the head, block and made a copper head gasket.
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Old 02-14-2017, 02:00 PM   #27
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoofhearted View Post
You need to find a Shorrocks blower and have a bit of fun.

that the coolest bike ive seen in years! And i see 10 knuckchops a day on my instagram feed. Doesnt it have a very long tank?
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Old 02-14-2017, 02:29 PM   #28
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Found some more pictures of the Ariel.
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Old 02-14-2017, 02:43 PM   #29
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Quote:
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You might enlist the help of our brothers from the other side of the pond for any leads to possible parts suppliers. The head gasket could be an issue due to age as I had problems even back then. I eventually bit the bullet and surfaced the head, block and made a copper head gasket.
Good advice...parts are coming from a UK Ariel specialist.
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Old 02-14-2017, 02:52 PM   #30
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that the coolest bike ive seen in years! And i see 10 knuckchops a day on my instagram feed. Doesnt it have a very long tank?


Perhaps fuel / oil combined to make room for the blower?
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Old 03-05-2017, 12:40 PM   #31
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Finally!!! The bearings/ bushings I need to start getting the bottom end of this engine have arrived! The original package must have gotten lost somewhere along the way, so they sent out a replacement. Will be taking the cranks to the machine shop this week for a regrind and will start cleaning up the crankcase halves and fitting the new bits and pieces.
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Old 03-05-2017, 01:16 PM   #32
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Oh boy oh boy oh boy
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Old 03-06-2017, 11:32 AM   #33
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Am watching with lots of interest, way, way back in ancient history when I was living in Calif., I had a buddy with an Ariel square four, he let me ride it a couple of times, always wanted one but just never ran across one out here in Hawaii....
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Old 03-08-2017, 02:25 PM   #34
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Get back to work on the Commando!!!!
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Old 03-08-2017, 04:52 PM   #35
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Get back to work on the Commando!!!!
No worries, that is getting some attention too.
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Old 03-09-2017, 11:05 AM   #36
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Around 14.47...


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Old 03-10-2017, 04:39 PM   #37
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Ok...got the cranks sent off to the machine shop first thing this week...got 'em back today...nice looking work, checked the measurements to make sure...all good!
Also got the crankcases cleaned up and new bearing races installed in the drive side. Now that I have the cranks back I can machine the new timing side bushing before I get them fitted, will also need to establish the axial thrust, test fit the rods and reassemble the crank balance weights and flywheels.

Crankcases before cleaning



Crankcase after



Reground cranks

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Old 03-16-2017, 05:46 PM   #38
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Got a few more things done this week, got the new crank bushings machined and fitted to the timing side crankcase, they needed to be modified to allow the oil to pass around the bushing shells (like the original ones). The thrust shoulders had to be machined down as well, but I left them at the larger diameter, so I could pin them to keep them from turning. After that I put the cranks in and established the thrust clearance. With that out of the way, I decided to fit the connecting rods and check the clearance with a bit of Plastigauge. Everything measured up properly, so the flywheels and counter weights were fitted back on the cranks. I thought I was going to be held up waiting for the oil scavenging pipe, but I found a new one on the sixth try of digging through the parts. With that bolted in place I can put the crankcase halves together and mount the connecting rods and camshaft. This thing has a weird little oil pressure relief valve that goes on the timing end of the front crankshaft...it didn't have any guts, but again with some digging I located a new pressure relief valve spring and ball and got that together...this is almost like going back to school...a lot of things are similar to other British bikes, but there are a lot of unique little differences that you have to pay attention to.

I think Photobucket is on the fritz tonight...I'll try posting pics again tomorrow.
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Old 03-17-2017, 01:33 AM   #39
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Goldy, what brass material did you use for the crank bushings?
What a great thread!

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Old 03-17-2017, 05:06 AM   #40
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Goldy, what brass material did you use for the crank bushings?

Lester
I was going to use Rotocast Bronze, but Draganfly had babbit lined replacement bushings available in 0.100" undersize. I had to machine them to 0.010" under to fit the regrind.

I've used rotocast on several other jobs, in fact one came back to me recently that I had machined about 25 years ago. It wears well and is very easy to work with. Had I not been able to get the babbit lined ones, I wouldn't have thought twice about using the Bronze instead.
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Old 03-17-2017, 05:15 AM   #41
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I was going to use Rotocast Bronze, but Draganfly had babbit lined replacement bushings available in 0.100" undersize. I had to machine them to 0.0010" under to fit the regrind.

I've used rotocast on several other jobs, in fact one came back to me recently that I had machined about 25 years ago. It wears well and is very easy to work with. Had I not been able to get the babbit lined ones, I wouldn't have thought twice about using the Bronze instead.
Thanks Goldy.... and i ment Bronze obviouly.....lol.
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Old 03-17-2017, 10:51 AM   #42
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Ok Photobucket seems to be working now...

Here's the new bushings before machining with the an old one for comparison:



And here are the new bushings with the oil grooves machined and the bores done to fit the crankshafts:



Setting the thrust clearance:



Finally found that oil scavenge pipe! A look at the inside:



...and the reassembled crankshafts:

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Old 03-24-2017, 05:35 PM   #43
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Completed a bit more engine work this week. Had to machine a little spacer to fit over the camshaft to locate the cam properly in the crankcase, then slipped that in. Got the coupling gears mounted to the crankshafts after fitting new vibration dampers...they really do work...the gears ring like a bell without those simple fibre discs. Connecting rods were installed and torqued. Took the cylinder block to the machine shop to have the old liners pressed out and new ones installed and bored to match the new pistons. Started working on the cylinder head, took a while but I managed to get the rocker arm shafts out without damaging anything (the rocker arms had seized to the shafts).

Crankcase with all the guts in place:

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Old 03-26-2017, 05:19 PM   #44
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

You seem to be slapping this together like you build them every week, with just a shop manual to refer to, and having never worked on this engine (which is unlike any other) before. I don't know how you do it!

It's looking great, I'm already looking forward to the day you fire this one up.
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Old 03-26-2017, 06:41 PM   #45
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Well, to be honest, I'm really taking taking my time and studying everything very closely before any assembly takes place. I've been checking everything at least twice...and the shop manual..well I suppose it's better than nothing, but for all the information and instruction it leaves to the imagination, I might as well not even have it. It's damn near useless! I do have some other literature that helps fill in the blank spots though.
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Old 04-02-2017, 06:39 PM   #46
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Not much to report on this week...did get the valve guides knocked out and new ones installed. Machine shop still has the cylinders. There has been a death in the family and I'm going to be pretty busy getting the legalities looked after as well as clearing and cleaning her apartment this month, so things may slow down, but not stop altogether...shop time is my form of decompression. :P
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Old 04-02-2017, 07:22 PM   #47
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Quote:
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Might get arrested carrying all that crack


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Old 04-15-2017, 10:09 AM   #48
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

man this really makes me wants SQ4
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Old 04-15-2017, 01:08 PM   #49
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Am always interested in progress on projects like this, keep it up!
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Old 04-16-2017, 09:03 AM   #50
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Mike picked up the re-sleeved cylinders from the machine shop a few days ago and delivered them to me this morning. Needless to say, they did a nice job installing and boring them to match the pistons. I'll post a picture or two later. Happy Easter!
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Old 04-26-2017, 02:08 PM   #51
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It's been a busy month and not the sort of "busy" I like. I believe I mentioned before, I had to empty a deceased relative's apartment (all alone...at least I had the "boss" to help me with the final clean up). On top of that, I had to help two of my boys move. I don't know how I even had time to take a friggin' dump this month...but at least that's behind me. So... here are the pics of those cylinders I promised in the last posting. Currently on the hunt for a couple of exhaust valves....have all but two in that pile of bits and pieces....but there's nothing really holding me back from fitting the pistons and cylinders next week...I hope!



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Old 05-01-2017, 12:40 PM   #52
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

You'll get there, it's a worthwhile project....
And I sure do know that feeling of ever thing else that keeps poppin' up and needin' to be done !!!!
Aloha,
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Old 05-12-2017, 05:42 AM   #53
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Was going to put the pistons in place the other day, but the motor on my lathe bit the bullet...I hope I can fix it without having to resort to a new one...time will tell. In the meantime Mike has been busy getting the chassis and tinware assembled, here's some Ariel porno for you:


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Old 05-12-2017, 11:09 AM   #54
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

:Snort: :huffa huffa: That tank makes me twitchy. In a most welcome way, of course.
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Old 05-12-2017, 01:30 PM   #55
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Very nice.
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Old 05-16-2017, 04:21 PM   #56
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Turned out that the problem with the lathe was an easy fix after all...it's down to me being a poor housekeeper. The motor got shorted by a piece of aluminum swarf that got sucked into it. Anyhow the other day I cleaned the place up and now at least the shop looks presentable and the good ol' lathe is back in operation...I honestly don't know what I would do without it. With that looked after, I finally got back at the Ariel and put the pistons on the rods, fitted the tappets and guide blocks to the cylinders and slid them down over the pistons. I was surprised at how easily it went! Now if that valve I am waiting for would show up I could get the head back together and fit that in place too. I do have a pitted up old exhaust valve, but I don't want to resort to using that.

Squariel peek-a-boo...cylinders going on over the pistons:



Cylinder heads and valves...the pitted one is shown lower left:

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Old 05-17-2017, 06:03 PM   #57
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Default 1949 Ariel Square four

Mmmm, the slightest problem would have you wondering - better to wait for the new one. Loving this thread! Tank looks fantastic!

I did that to my lathe too, fitted some mesh over the motor cooling vents, works a treat.
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Old 05-18-2017, 05:07 AM   #58
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

[QUOTE= I did that to my lathe too, fitted some mesh over the motor cooling vents, works a treat.[/QUOTE]

Did something quite similar with mine...could have avoided it altogether had I kept the damn thing reasonably clean in the first place. Live and learn.
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Old 05-18-2017, 09:20 AM   #59
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

This thread has been a real education. I always wondered how this engine worked....two counter-rotating cranks! Wow! Thanks for posting the pics and info. I can't wait to see it come together.
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Old 05-18-2017, 01:11 PM   #60
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

Thanks, love that current build you've been working on. I wasn't going to bother posting this, but here goes anyhow...that is if I can remember how to do it.

https://youtu.be/UobIOhJhaOI
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Old 05-18-2017, 02:08 PM   #61
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

If you click the AA box (remove text formatting) before pasting the link, it shows a preview of the video. That is an amazing bit of engineering BTW!

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Old 05-19-2017, 12:31 AM   #62
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

...did you find those bits like valves etc easy? or are car valves?
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Old 05-19-2017, 07:40 AM   #63
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Reverb...Some of the bits were easy to find, others not. Draganfly and British Only have a lot of square four parts, but they are not always available...then there's ebay. Some of the things were already collected by the previous owner, so that was a treat...and some of the stuff needs to be fabricated from scratch. It's the waiting for those little bits and pieces that take so long.
Supercrouton...thanks for helping me with that video. I knew I must have been missing something.
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Old 05-20-2017, 05:18 AM   #64
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

always the way with the small stuff turning out to be most costly time/money wise. I second |British Only as being good source, they have helped me out previously with very reasonably priced parts and their stock does seem to change quite frequently so worth checking back.

Goldy, the attention you're giving the rebuild on the SQ 4 is a credit to you, can't wait to see the finished article.
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Old 05-22-2017, 11:13 PM   #65
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Default Re: 1949 Ariel Square four

This is a great project thread! Thanks for sharing the rebirth of this truly unique motorcycle.
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