As we detailed in our last posting, our ’56 T110 was missing many parts when it was delivered to Dave Wedlake in early 2013. Garry Chitwood was never able to come up with anything more than what he sent us in the initial shipment.
Dave started making up a list of the missing parts we needed to find as well as a list of the parts that would be unusable. We decided to wait until both Dave and I could go over the bike together before the restoration could start.
Another reason we decided to wait was that I was delivering to Dave a 1956 TR6 basket case that we planned for Dave to restore concurrently with the T110. The restoration of that bike is the subject of a set of separate postings on this website.
In June of 2013, while making the transit from Arizona to Washington for the summer, I was able to meet with Dave at his Portland shop to do a more thorough evaluation of the ’56 T110.
We confirmed once more that most of the bike was there and in decent shape but with some issues that would be very challenging.
Dave showed me the connecting rod with the side play that needed correction.
Based upon just that issue, we decided to have Dave go completely through the engine and open up the gear box that Garry Chitwood had restored just to make sure everything inside was as we expected. This turned out to be a wise decision.
A few years ago, Garry Chitwood had informed us that our bike had come with a fiberglass rear fender. We had never seen something like that before. Where had some previous owner able to find a fiberglass version of this fender? Maybe someone reading this posting can tell us.
Fortunately, at the time, Dave Wedlake was able to provide the right fender from his parts inventory and I sent it to Garry back then. That correct fender ended up coming back to Dave when the bike and parts were shipped from Virginia to Portland in early 2013.
Battery Box and oil tank:
Dave noticed that the battery box and oil tank looked a bit questionable, so one of the first things he did was to strip them. Here is what Dave found after removing the paint … they were basically trash as can be seen below.
Fortunately, I was able to locate a very nice brand new oil tank and battery box from our parts supplier. The supplier unfortunately said these parts were one of the last sets they had. This would end up also becoming a problem for our ’56 TR6 restoration.
None of the black parts had been powder coated by Garry … they had been painted. That was an indication that maybe there was an issue underneath.
Here is the message that Dave sent me once he started restoration…
“Wherever I removed bolts, it chipped the paint, probably due to lousy paint prep. It should be powder coated. All the bolts I removed were only hand tight as the partial completion of the bike was staged.”
Dave decided to strip both the main frame and rear frame and have them powder coated. The main frame looked okay after stripping, but the rear frame was full of bondo in areas that were obviously corroded. This is why the rear frame was painted and not powder coated. This was absolutely unacceptable for a high quality restoration.
Obviously, the rear frame was unusable so we added one of these to our parts needed list.
The fuel tank looked very nice when Dave and I inspected it last year. Once Dave got it stripped for painting, however, did we ever get a surprise?
Here is how it looked with the paint (and bondo) removed ….
Dave thought it was probably too far gone to restore but if it could be saved there was only one guy who could do it … Ross Thompson in Canada.
Dave sent some pictures to Ross and he told Dave that the proper repair of the tank would probably cost close to $900. To be sure, Ross had to see it in person so Dave boxed it and sent it north. Once Ross evaluated the tank, it was even worse than he feared. The tunnel of the tank was spread apart for some reason and the large damaged areas would take a tremendous amount of work to repair. Ross’ recommendation was to buy another tank.
This type of tank isn’t easy to find but one was on EBay which I bid on but my bid didn’t hit reserve. The seller turned out to be Rod Wheeler, so I called him to see if I could buy it directly. The answer was yes but at quite a high price … $600. Yes, this was a high price, but still far cheaper than what it would have cost Ross to repair the tank that came with the bike.
Timing was an issue for us … we didn’t really want to wait to see if we could find a lower priced tank, so we stepped up and paid Rod the $600. Rod always guarantees his parts so we knew if it wasn’t what we wanted we could sent it back. Fortunately, it was in almost perfect condition and Dave prepared it and painted it along with the fenders.
Here are pictures of Dave’s prep work on the new tank …
Chronometric speedometer …
Garry Chitwood had restored the chronometric speedometer but the movement was loose in the case and it had none of the hardware necessary except the trip set wand that extends through the nacelle. Garry had always done his own work on gauges and he did this one by himself as well. This one wasn’t quite up to the standards of the previous chronos on the bikes he restored for us before. So, we sent it to Greg Poirier in Phoenix to complete properly. Note: see the upcoming blog on restoration of our ’56 TR6 that Greg restored the gauge for.
Greg reported that the mechanism in the T110 chrono was well done by Garry, but the dial face was a sticker rather than silk screen. Greg thinks that at the time Garry restored this gauge, sticker faces were the best option, but things have changed. Greg will now procure the correct silk screen dial face from Argentina, install the correct cadmium case with window to light the ammeter, and then install a new bezel and new glass. The gauge will be exactly as it came from the factory when Greg is done.
Wheel rims …
As we reported before, the wheel rims on this bike appeared to be Japanese, not British Dunlops, so we needed to find new rims and spokes. Many of the vintage Dunlops we have been locating over the past few years turn out to have issues, especially fronts where they may have hit a curb or two during their lives.
On the T110, we made the decision to go with new Devon rims and spokes, rather than trying to find acceptable vintage Dunlop rims to have rechromed. Devons are exactly like brand new Dunlop rims except in two ways … they have “Devon” stamped instead of Dunlop and they are much better made than the Dunlops. That being said, they are very expensive even when purchased directly from Devon on their website. The set of two rims and spokes from Devon set us back over $600, including shipping from the UK.
Another issue was that the rear hub that came with the bike was a unit part, not pre-unit, so it had the flange for the speedo drive. We need to find a preunit hub.
Next posting … Dave Wedlake starts restoration of a 1956 T110 … Part 3 of a multi-part posting … Reworking the engine and gearbox and finding the other missing parts ….