Wednesday 7 September 2022

The AJS 33/7 Trophy Model Restoration, a day with Ron Langston and the 2022 Manx GP:

I haven’t posted anything on my blog since the end of July but that doesn’t mean nothing has been happening. In fact, quite the opposite.

First, an update on the current AJS 33/7 restoration project.


I had already bought the mudguards from Renovation Spares – 4 ½” D-section for the rear and 4” for the front but the stays needed repairing/making.

Up to now, I have machined the “ends” for the mudguard stays, inserted these into ½” OD steel tubing and silver soldered them in place. I decided that it was time to make a press tool to enable properly flared ends to be made. The tool for this is shown below together with an “end” after pressing.

The 2x ¼” diameter pins hold the 2 top and bottom of the press tool in place and the initial pressing is done in the vice.

Although I have a decent sized vice I cannot exert sufficient pressure to get a completely flat end and the 20 ton press is used to complete the task. I have found it needs about 6 tons.

The end result, after drilling and radiusing the end looks OK.

The rear mudguard stay was repaired

and new brackets made by bending a flat steel bar over an appropriately sized former.

Similarly, new brackets and stays were made for the front mudguard.

The front mudguard has yet to be trimmed to length and the front wheel stand made.

Petrol Tank

I wrote quite a bit about the repair to the petrol tank in my last blog post but two tasks remained: firstly, a proper panel was needed for the top of the tank rather than the crude piece of sheet metal that had been cut out of a Castrol sign and, secondly, attachments to hold the side rubbers need to be fabricated. Although the bike will be fitted with lights, I don’t plan to have the switches in the tank panel but rather in the headlight and therefore only a simple plane panel is needed. However the panel does need a swaged edge for the correct appearance and to otherwise avoid cutting fingers on the edge of a piece of sheet steel.

The first step was to capture the shape of the panel by smearing grease on the contact surface and then transferring that, including the locations of the 3 holes onto a piece of cardboard (I’m still using up pieces of cardboard from returned laundered shirts from my days in staying in hotels on business trips during my working life – I retired nearly 7 years ago and still have plenty of pieces of cardboard left) .

The line around the outside of the grease has been added to give an allowance for the swage. The cardboard was then cut around the outline and the shape transferred to a piece of 18 gauge steel sheet, cut out with a disk cutter and finished with a finger sander.

The edge was then swaged in the edge roller

to produce a panel that fits the tank exactly and with a proper edge.

In due course, the panel will be sprayed gloss black whilst the remainder of the tank will be chrome plated.


Although I had a kickstart that was a good fit on the splines it was not a folding kickstart. I suspect that a non-folding kickstart would have been fitted originally but, as I always end up catching my leg, often painfully, on non-folding kickstarts I decided in the interests of enjoyment to modify the kickstart into one of the folding variety.

As with the V-Twin, I bought a Triumph folding kickstart off ebay for a few pounds, chopped it in 2 and welded the top part onto the Sturmey Archer bottom splined part. The picture below shows the new modified one on the left and the remaining bits on the right.

A day with Ron Langston

I have got to know Ron very well over recent years having ridden with him in a number of Ariel rallies in Italy (although I have ridden either a Velocette or a Norton but never actually taken an Ariel) and Ron has taken a keen interest in the build of the AJS V-Twin. Anyway, Ron invited us to bring the V-Twin to his open day which was held at his house back in July and the event is very well described here.

For me, one of the most interesting bikes on show was the Velocette Roarer, which I have never seen running before. This brief video clip shows the Roarer being run by Graham Rhodes ably assisted by Ivan.

Graham, incidentally, is a past winner at the Newcomers Senior Classic race at the Manx GP on a Seeley 500, a race that I watched from Creg-Na-Baa back in 2005.

The 2022 Manx GP

There would have been more progress on the cammy AJS restoration if I hadn’t needed to do some preparatory work, and then of course go to, the 2022 Manx GP. I have been going to the Isle of Man for either the TT or the Manx GP since 1978 – the year that Mike Hailwood made his comeback on a Ducati. I missed a few years when we lived abroad in Austria and bringing up our family but I’ve been taking older bikes for at least the last 20 years. This is a picture from the 2010 MGP with the R10 in the foreground and my mates Velo behind – and I’m sandwiched in between.

For those that know the IoM, this picture is taken at the crossroads where the roads from Foxdale and Glen Maye intersect. The resolution is poor because it was taken on a phone camera of that era.

And so to this year….. The 2020 and 2021 MGP events did not happen because of covid and I, together with many others, had our ferry booking “bounced” into 2022.

I had decided to take the recommissioned Velocette Thruxton and the AJS R10. However, as I reported in a previous blog  I had fitted a new cylinder barrel and piston on the Velo and I needed to get some running-in miles before using the bike  in the IoM. The first run out to a local petrol station did not go well: I could not start the bike after filling the tank. It did start OK by pushing it up a hill and then bump starting it but having to do that does take the pleasure out of a ride. As the bike had been standing for some time and poor hot starting is often attributed to weakness in the magneto I decided that Paul at APL really need to take a look at the mag and do whatever was necessary.

This resulted in a near complete rebuild – rewound armature, new slip ring, bearings etc..

The Velo is also now fitted with the correct 1 3/8” T5GP2 carburettor and as these instruments were developed for the racing engines of the day the focus was on high speed performance rather than ease of starting. Difficult starting can arise because the large diameter (and hence large cross-sectional area) produces a correspondingly lower air velocity at the choke and this, in turn, produces a smaller pressure drop (below atmospheric pressure) to entrain fuel and so getting a good fuel/air mixture into the cylinder is problematical.

Easier starting can often be achieved by using the tickler. For any reader that is not familiar with older carburetted engines, the “tickler” is a small spring-loaded plunger on the top of the float chamber to press down on the float to provide excess fuel for starting. However, the tickler on the matchbox float chamber used here on the GP carburettor, is completely inaccessible with a finger because it is hidden behind the toolbox, but it can be depressed with a short, flat wooden stick – a “tickling stick” (for those in the UK, this is nothing to do with Ken Dodd). It is also necessary to position the kickstart using the “Velocette Starting Technique” (Google will explain what that is) and I can nearly claim first kick starting. Not bad for a high compression engine with a large racing carburettor.

Anyway, the Velo, pictured here with a backdrop of Peel Harbour at The Creek Inn

and the R10 holding up the bank at The Gooseneck

performed faultlessly for my 10 days in the Isle of Man.

For various reasons, the 2022 Manx GP was probably the last time I will visit the IoM so it’s good to go out on a “high”.

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