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I have had an interest in model engineering for most of my adult life. Over the years I have built up a comprehensive home workshop. In 1997 following the privatisation of my employer I took up the offer of early retirement. My wife had already taken early severance from her employer some months previous to this. You have to have a bit of luck sometimes! The change in lifestyle has been much appreciated by both of us. The number of new friends made has been a totally unexpected feature of retirement.Ariel350
For many years I had wanted to restore an old British motorcycle and early retirement gave me the time to do this. I started looking for a girder fork single cylinder machine. Condition was not a major concern, providing it was not crash damaged as this was to be an engineering project. I purchased an Ariel 350c.c. WNG from the Norfolk Motorcycle Museum on 19th September 1998 in a somewhat neglected state.


The collection of this machine coincided with a bike run from the museum. I recall one chap saying “I trust you’ll have that done by teatime!” Research has revealed that this machine was delivered new to RAF Tewkesbury on 16th September 1942 but did not see service overseas. I decided from the outset that I would give this bike the appearance of a late 30’s machine rather than WD khaki.milling machine
The bike was cleaned down and stripped with the exception of the engine and gearbox. The resulting pile of rusted parts was quite depressing and when I came to strip the engine I became convinced that I must be totally mad to take this on. The piston was seized solid at bottom dead centre and after removing the cylinder base nuts no movement of the crank was possible. After several weeks I managed to get the engine apart but the damage to the cylinder barrel was beyond repair, two of the crankcase studs had to be machined out before the crankcases could be split. The main bearings were rusted solid but came out easily when heat was applied. The gearbox, or at least what I had of it, was in reasonable condition.
I had now reached a stage where I knew what was missing and what needed replacing and what could be repaired. The frame parts were grit blasted and the slow job of rebuilding began. Parts were sourced from autojumbles where possible and through contacts with the Ariel Owners’ Club. Paintwork I did myself and over 400 parts were made in my own workshop.Ariel
My diary entry for 29th July 2000 reads ‘Finished petrol tap, made up a petrol pipe and connected to a tin can, gave bike one kick and it started, oil circulating OK but charging circuit not working. Bike exhaust quite noisy, cat disappeared for over an hour!’
One particular part that I couldn’t locate was the 14 tooth gear for the front wheel speedo drive. This left me with no alternative but to make one. The toolmaking to make a single point gear cutter of the appropriate involute shape took quite some time but the resulting gear was excellent. The photograph shows the finished gear on the mill with the cutter withdrawn. For those who like useless information, this gear has made in excess of 31 million revolutions at the time these notes were written.

When I acquired this bike I had no plans to ride it, but as the restoration progressed I knew that after all that work I had to ride it. Over thirty years had gone by since I had ridden. It was with some trepidation that I first rode it, but, of course, I thoroughly enjoyed it and have now covered over 13,000 miles on this machine.

Tony's Story Part 3





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