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Old 09-03-2017, 04:28 PM   #1
Goldy
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Default 1955 AJS project

I promised to share, so here goes nuttun'.

I had been talking for years about how much I admire the looks of the AJS and Matchless twins... then about five years ago, one morning bright and early, a very good friend shows up in my driveway. He grins and hands me an envelope and says "You have always been such a good help to me he said, and I know how much you have wanted one, so I want you to have this." I opened the envelope to find the registration papers for a 1955 AJS model 20B. I was pretty much speechless..."If you don't take it, I'll be mad." he says. Well, he didn't have to get mad...we soon were unloading box, after box, after box of bits and pieces from his truck and sitting them in the middle of the shop.

I took a written inventory of what was there the following day. There were some rather important items missing, but I decided that I would make a list of those items and start scouring the web for them...meanwhile time passed. I worked on other peoples projects and got them on the road, while all I had time to do on this project was get a few items machined (more on that another time) and collect the parts I needed to get this machine together.

At this time I would say I'm probably about half way there to having it roadworthy, so I will fill in the bits and pieces of the story on a pretty much weekly basis.

In the meantime, here is what I started with:

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Last edited by Goldy; 10-11-2017 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 09-03-2017, 05:38 PM   #2
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I'll never get bored of your projects Goldy. What a kind gesture by your friend.
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Old 09-03-2017, 06:01 PM   #3
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Oh boy oh boy ohboyohboy
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Old 09-03-2017, 06:04 PM   #4
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Default Re: 1955 AJS project

Looks like it's already partly restored. Congratulations Goldy!
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Old 09-04-2017, 06:23 AM   #5
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Default Re: 1955 AJS project

Another build thread by Goldy!! I'm so happy about that.


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Old 09-04-2017, 09:57 AM   #6
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Default Re: 1955 AJS project

Nothing much going on this morning...might as well add to the tale.

The chap this pile of stuff came from, was one of a local group who seemed to be of the opinion that the first thing to do when you got hold of an old bike was to strip the entire machine down to every nut and bolt. The trouble with this approach is that half the bike gets lost or mixed up with other projects...especially after the passage of twenty or thirty years. This was no exception. As I mentioned, I took an inventory of what was stuffed into those totes and boxes Some of the items, like the frame, oil tank and primary had been painted and wrapped up in rags or cardboard...this was a pleasant surprise, but I was missing a lot of other items...expensive items, like a generator, tool boxes, rear fender seat...I could go on, but you get the point...and this was only a quick inventory. As time passed I started calling this project "The gift that keeps on taking."
Anyhow, I got started with the search for the major items I was going to need.

Now, I must digress for a moment...about twenty years ago I had been flipping through the pages of Classic Bike magazine and saw one of these machines that the owner had done up as a competition/ trials version. This is the bike I lusted over for the next 20 years.
At the start of this project I was unsure as to which way to go with it...should I restore it, do the competition version, or do up a salute to the AJS twin racer of the period? Well, as I was digging through the parts, I found that there was a shiny new 21 inch rim laced to the front hub...and a second fuel tank, which was from a Norton P11 and a new alloy front fender...the previous owner must have been considering the same competition version that I had fallen in love with all those years ago...he had probably even used the same magazine as inspiration. Well, that sealed the deal...with all those unique parts on hand, a competition version was the way I would go.

The search for the big ticket items got under way. I found a generator in Austria that was almost as good as new. One of the cylinders was cracked, but rather than re-sleeve it, I opted to get a second hand one that came from a US supplier (in very good condition) and found a NOS set of 0.020" over Hepolite pistons and rings from Thailand.

The crank was another story...this bike is the most worn 'right-t'-hell-out' machine I have EVER seen. The crank was in BAD shape and worn well below the standard minimum regrind size. What to do? There was one on Ebay, but the cost was $400.00 US, plus $150.00 shipping. The cost of having it chromed and reground was about $300.00....well cash rules most of my decisions, so rather than take a chance on an ebay crank, I took a chance on a chrome and regrind job. I've got to say, it looked just 'sweet' when it came back from Montreal, built up and ground back to the standard grind. Time passed...other parts were gathered...new main bearings, new con rod bearing shells...a decent used drive-end shock absorber and sprocket, etc etc. After the passage of about five years I was ready to start building the bike...and then I decided to close down my little bike repair business and retire (sort of). This spring I finished up the last winters project (the '72 Norton Commando) and got going on this one.

I'll begin the story of the build and get some pictures sorted out in the next post.
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Old 09-04-2017, 02:12 PM   #7
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Default Re: 1955 AJS project

It seems like I remember that Classic Bike feature, but then I am suggestible. Are you going to make it a Six Days replica with lights, so you can flaunt it on the street?
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Old 09-04-2017, 04:47 PM   #8
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Default Re: 1955 AJS project

Yeah Ratso...I want to ride it on the asphalt too, so it'll definitely have to be sporting minimal lighting...otherwise I wouldn't have given a hoot about the missing generator. It was the November '94 issue I was talking about...right on the cover.
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Old 09-04-2017, 05:48 PM   #9
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Default Re: 1955 AJS project

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldy View Post
Yeah Ratso...I want to ride it on the asphalt too, so it'll definitely have to be sporting minimal lighting...otherwise I wouldn't have given a hoot about the missing generator. It was the November '94 issue I was talking about...right on the cover.


I'm curious about the goal now - pic if you still have the mag.
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Old 09-04-2017, 08:00 PM   #10
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Default Re: 1955 AJS project

Ok...here you go...

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Old 09-04-2017, 11:50 PM   #11
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With the inestimable Phillip Tooth aboard -- one of the last editors at CB who understood both motorcycles and magazine publishing. After him and Peter Wilson we got one or the other or briefly neither.
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Old 09-05-2017, 02:45 PM   #12
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Default Re: 1955 AJS project

I remember that issue!
Nice! I think you should go for it, treat yourself .
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Old 09-11-2017, 07:49 PM   #13
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Next installment...now in "retirement mode" it was time to start putting this machine together; engine first. Fitted the new bearings to the crankshaft and crankcases and new bearing shells on the centre web and connecting rods. Checked all that stuff for a nice smooth fit and proper clearance (thrust bearings too), then after cleaning and polishing the cam followers and cams got it all ready to go together. One thing I can say for these AJS /Matchless twin engines...they are built like a bloody tank!

Checking the centre web and con rod bearings for proper fit.



All ready to be buttoned up.

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Old 09-12-2017, 06:37 AM   #14
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Default Re: 1955 AJS project

That center web sure will stiffen up the crank!
The con rods sure look solid as well.... different too. I am not understanding the design with the two holes with inserts.... counter weights? nh.... sorry me dummy.

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Old 09-12-2017, 07:53 AM   #15
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Yes indeed, the centre web would give the crank a lot of support and much less flex, it also houses the thrust bearings. Oil is fed from the oil filter (yes...a Brit bike with an integral full flow oil filter!) through a drilling in the centre web to the centre main bearing. It then flows through drill ways in the crank toward the crank throws and lubes the con rod bearings. There are removable screws at the end of the oil passages to allow for cleaning the sludge that may accumulate inside the crankshaft over time. The connecting rods are quite substantial...those little steel inserts are trunions...the con rod studs screw into those instead of directly into the aluminum and a nut holds the cap onto the rod.
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Old 09-12-2017, 08:21 AM   #16
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Default Re: 1955 AJS project

Nice work
So is it a good engine ?
Or has its design flaws like many others ?
(My uncle had an AJS scramble bike)


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Old 09-12-2017, 12:36 PM   #17
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Individual L and R heads?
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Old 09-12-2017, 02:32 PM   #18
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Default Re: 1955 AJS project

I love seeing the insides of engines I don't know much about. Very cool.
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Old 09-12-2017, 03:19 PM   #19
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Cripes Goldy!!! you got time for this and the Ariel!
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Old 09-13-2017, 05:43 AM   #20
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AJS liked those trunnions, the 7R/G50 had them for the rocker box bolts. See the right side in this view:

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