Thursday, March 3, 2016

Matchless by Reputation!

So you've decided to buy a basket case.

 You have soul stirringly romantic notions of taking a rusted heap and watching it rise, phoenix like from the ashes.

It is a daunting task, with dizzying highs and sometimes painful lows.  Your free time will evaporate as will your extra cash.

There are few things however that are as satisfying and provide such a strong sense of accomplishment.

Let me show you what I dragged home.

The photos don't tell the whole story as there was quite a bit more buried in boxes and other items.  

Here is the the rough breakdown:

2x Frames (one single downtube, one duplex cradle frame)
2x Carbs  (one monobloc and another, much older Amal)
3 x wheels (2 rears and a front)
2 x Oil Tanks (vastly different shapes)
3 x Toolboxes 
2.5 Engines
2 Front Mudguards
2 Rear Mudguards
1 gas Tank
4 x center stands
2x sidestands
1.5 Gearboxes
3 x Lucas headlights (2 were scrap)
1 x BSA lightning seat
2 x sets of rear shocks
1 x steering damper
1.5 front ends
0.5x wiring harness
3x coils 

Loads of nuts and bolts, frame mountings, odds and ends that I am still going through! 

I confess that I knew very little about Matchless other than the company history before I took this on.  It was evident that I was going to need help and lots of it.   Unlike Triumph and BSA,  AMC motorcycles are a little bit trickier in regards to identifying parts and part numbers.  All the vintage parts books and manuals are available for free online, however I found them challenging to decipher. 

The best solution was to join the owner's club, 
They have excellent resources as well as frame identification service, if you are a member you pay five pounds for the service.  Interestingly enough, Matchless and AJS don't have matching numbers as Triumphs do.  The frames, engines and gearboxes all have different numbers!  If you want to ensure that you have a matching unit (as it left the factory) there is a dating officer who can research factory records and provide a report.  

As I typed in the digits I quietly hoped that one of these bikes was a G11;  This was the last bike my father rode in England.   

Drumroll please...

Frame No
Engine No
Gearbox No
Other Information

Engine No., Dispatch date, Test date, Dealer, Testers name 

Frame No
Engine No
Gearbox No
Other Information
Engine No., Gearbox No., Dispatch date, Dealer, Testers name 

I wasn't surprised by the G12,  the duplex frame, oil tank and side covers looked to be from a later model (the last true Matchless product before the Norton merger)

After joining the Jampot forum, I was told by the gurus that my 2 engines (seen on the bench) were 500cc G9's  however the stamping on one was ground off and the other re stamped with strange numbers.  The experts reckoned that these were early circa 1951 or 1952.  That means the best of the the two will fit the 1955 frame, originally designated for the equivalent AJS model (20).

What to do with the big pile of AMC goodness?  

I have started by separating the G12 from the G9,  something I am still not finished and frankly will probably never fully achieve.  This is due to the fact that many parts were shared among the different range.  That being said, I have managed to get all the major G12 components up in the rafters and put away for future restoration.  I will likely get to it in a few years after some other patiently waiting projects have been completed.  The G12 could use some fresh casings and the crankshaft needs some serious rust removal.  I am told that the 650cc engines were prone to blowing up as they tended to be abused in the day and did not receive proper maintenance.  I have a very kind friend who has offered me a set for postage (he has been working on these for 50 some odd years.).   I intend to put that bike back together to mostly original condition.  

The G9?  I have a frame, 1 complete motor and one parts motor.  I have 2 toolboxes and an oil tank.  
I have spare odds and ends in my garage that have been collecting dust.   I think I have found the blank canvas that I was looking for....

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