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The Enfield Files

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' at netrider.net.au started by mattb, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. I planned before buying my Royal Enfield Bullet 500 that I would engage in a few improvements, and I'll note some of them here as I progress.


    The changes are mostly quite simple, such as a planned conversion from a bench seat to a saddle, and replacing the plastic handlebar switches for something a little more 1950s. There are other changes including the electrical system, but a major change regards some engine components. The old pre-unit Indian Bullet is, let's be frank, built to rubbishy standards. The English company's motto was "Made like a gun", but 10,000km marks a standard interval on the Indian Bullet where it shows that it's made like a grenade. There are various problems, with three notable ones:
    1.The Bullet sports a floating bush big end of poor quality which regularly goes south.
    2.The Bullet's piston tends to lose its head.
    3.When either happens pressure is placed on a the conrod which can break and make a surprise appearance through the engine cases.

    Today something lovely arrived from England. A Hitchocks English forged steel conrod mated to an Alpha roller bearing for the big end. Because the Bullet is pre-unit and blown up engine bits cannot get into the gears, and because I will be relying on an over-worked Royal Enfield Club member to do the work, I will just ride my Bullet until it blows, in the coming weeks or years, and store this jewel in readiness. 370 Pounds for the unit and 40 Pounds postage. It's rather beautiful, don't you think? I need to wrap it up and put it away, but I just want to hold it in my hands. The beating heart of a big single engine, fine British engineering.



    Any recommendations on how to store the item? I was thinking to spray it with WD40 and wrap it in gladwrap - I really have no idea.
    • Like Like x 2
  2. Couple of things.

    The issue of conrod breakage isn't confined to the Indian made Bullets. Almost 30 years ago, an article by Royce Creasey (something of a local expert on Brit built Bullets before he went mad and started playing with Feet Forwards :D) appeared in Classic Mechanics, detailing improvements and upgrades. One of his comments was on the original alloy conrod which, he reckoned, would continue to operate perfectly for an indeterminate length of time, before snapping without warning and, in his words, "sawing the engine in half" :shock:. Not really relevant to the Indian bikes but a point of mild interest.

    As for preservation of your lovely new bits, I'd avoid WD40 as, in my experience, its effects dont last long. I'd be dismantling the whole assembly and ensuring everything is coated in a decent thick grease. Pretty much anything will do. The tub of general purpose or high melting point stuff you (should) keep around for wheel and head bearings will be fine. Then go with the gladwrap and a ziplock freezer bag. Sure, it's messy to do and you'll need to clean it all before the rebuild (or your engine builder will :D) but it'll last for ever at the bottom of a pond.

    I recognise the feeling of handling new engineering parts though. I remember buying a new crown wheel and pinion for the massive ENV back axle in my Land-Rover. When they arrived, they were some of the sexiest bits of macined steel I've had the pleasure of handling :D.
  3. smother in grease
    then grease paper
    then cheesecloth
  4. Danger do not i repeat do not remove the hot dipped oil / waxed coating until its ready to put in the motor

    Its designed to last twenty plus years when stored in barrier film.

    That rod got delivered to you in a special breathable membrane paper film simply wrap it back up in the paper it come in and store in a dry /out of sunlight, tool box / cupboard

  5. Agree entirely if it's already got a good preservative coating.

    I was assuming nearly bare steel.
  6. Yes sorry to grab attention like that Pat but some times its needed, actually its the oils / acids / fingers that do the worst staining rust and enviroment after we unwrap our new motor bits

    inhibitor / preservative treatments if done correctly can ice a ic engine for an indefinate sleep until needed the military is where it is practiced the most.

    The best products are available here http://www.australianinhibitor.com.au/page/1/home.html

  7. I hadn't ridden the bike for three or four weeks so last week I decided to ride it to work. Pulled the compression release and kicked it over half a dozen times, choke on, and it started first kick as usual. Then, as usual, it died, meaning I'd start it again with choke off and hold the throttle for a minute till it was stable. Went to kick it the second time, and...no compression!

    So I'm advised that it's probably the compression release. I wiggle and jiggle and push and pull the cable and any part of the mechanism I can reach, but I cannot get the compression back on. So I decide to pull out the compression valve unit and inspect it. I believed it would just come out as a unit - it's a big unit of parts bolted into the head like a spark plug - here's the hole for it:


    I pull out this tiny split-pin to pull the spring and cable off so I can get a socket on to the thing


    and listen to the sound of the compression valve - tink - falling on to the piston.

    So next stop, it's pull the head off.

    I'm confident of doing this in my back yard with my basic tools. Here's a video of how simple it is to dismantle:

    Before trying to remove the decompression unit I had taken off the rocker cover (I have no torque wrench, but this is all finger tight, then tighten a little more, so my tools suffice). It's interesting to see the push rod system:



    I've got a set of new piston rings lying around, so I'll take the opportunity to fit them. I've never opened up an engine before, so it'll be a good learning experience, and a good 'getting to know you' experience with the bike.
  8. Imagine if that split-pin gave up the ghost while I was riding!
  9. Well, no need to pull off the head for that lost valve - it came out pretty easily by means of my ingenious magnet-glued-to-a-chopstick.

    So the decompressor is back together and is definitely sealing...and still I have no compression :(

    So it looks like the head is still coming off....
    • Like Like x 1
  10. I haven't had time to properly work on the Bullet and fix the lost compression until today. The latest theory was a bit of soot caught between the valve and it's seat, so the strategy was to put the tank back on the bike, squirt some Start Ya Bastard, and kick and sweatily kick until something happened. After ten kicks it started to cough, after twenty it suddenly fired into life!

    So I was able to take it for a ride with the new seat I've fitted, and the new inconspicuous front indicators.



    Next on the list, I have an replica "Stop" tail-light, hard '50s style panniers, and indicators to mount on the rear of the panniers, all ready to be fitted after some drilling. There's also a new, nicer condition tank of the same design but with the full "Royal Enfield" to be fitted after I buy the cap and tap appropriate to it. In the next month or two I'll also test the bike on a long distance run up to Nyah, at 80kph on the back roads.
  11. Keep it up. Good read mate.

  12. It looks pretty nifty with that style of seat.
  13. Love the seat as well. :)
  14. Thanks guys. I'm not sure what the seat will feel like at the end of a long day, but I must say that it's perfectly comfortable around town. I wouldn't want a sprung seat on a faster bike, even my W, but given how gently I ride the Bullet through corners I think it's slight wobbliness won't be a problem.

    I was just looking at the Hitchcocks catalogue and it's tempting, now I have the expensive engine parts already purchased, not to go completely english on the engine internals, to eradicate potential problems (and make it that that bit more British :))
  15. It looks so much better with the solo seat
  16. i sorta kinda miss my RE
    it sure was fun
    and i done a fair few kms(12000) on it
    the drum brakes were the worst thing
    top speed of 100km left you victim to crazed truckies
    points haha
    all of those things are fixed on the latest models
    definately a garage full of bikes senario
    cutting to the chase loved you RE but the Bonneville gives more head
    love disc brakes
  17. Yeah, a proper Bonnie's on the books for me at some point. The Royal Enfield twins don't seem very good by comparison.
  18. In India people scatter when you hear the thump of an Enfield as 99.999999% of them are ridden by cops. They are usually the 350 version though, not the 500.

    Nice bike, like everything in India they're a bit crude, but they seem to work.