Thursday, May 20, 2010

Building Budget Brits

Don’t let the title fool you. Mike Brown’s Building Budget Brits is about more than restoring only BSA and Triumph unit twins. This 175-page book contains some useful tips for anybody restoring just about any bike. To be sure, Brown uses only photos and text of the famous Brit marques to convey the information, but some of the book’s 23 chapters address restoration techniques that can be handy for restoring any motorcycle, British or otherwise.

For instance, “Chapter 12: Tanks A Lot” addresses gas-tank restoration. While Brown obviously acquired much of his learned techniques from restoring old Limey bikes, the knowledge that he passes on about reviving an old gas tank will work for any motorcycle that burns gasoline. In that chapter Brown explains the basics of gas-tank repair, focusing on inspection and removing rust, pressure testing for leaks, sealing leaks, and even removing those unsightly dings and dents that seem to always find their way onto that precious piece of sheet metal right above the engine.

Other widely applicable subject matter includes initial teardown to begin the project, lacing and truing wheels, frame and swingarm repair and restoration, seat-pan restoration and upholstering (fittingly titled “Hidden Assets: Seat Restoration”), and electrical troubleshooting (another crafty title, “Taming the Prince of Darkness,” a reference to the blokes’ nickname for Lucas, maker of the electrics that were common on the unit twins).

But the book’s main focus, of course, is on restoring those unit twins. And for owners of rusty BSA and Triumphs, Brown has chapters that guide you in rebuilding Beezer and Trumpet forks, Amal carburetors, transmission restoration, and basic engine rebuilds.

You shouldn’t rely on Brown’s book to assist you in creating a 100-point concours-ready bike—he emphasizes that point throughout his narrative—but it will prove useful in putting your old Brit bike back on the street. That way it can drip oil on public roadways rather than only in your garage. —Dain Gingerelli

Building Budget Brits: A practical guide for refurbishing BSA and Triumph unit twins
by Mike Brown
Published by Whitehorse Press

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