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Misc: Everything Else Complete Restoration of a Black Shadow

Magnetoman

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
I have a question for which there is an obvious answer that many people might give, but for which I hope at least a few people spend some time considering it.

Background: I have a matching numbers 1950 Black Shadow that will require me to do a complete restoration down to the last fastener. Although I've done some amount of work on it since buying the bike a few years ago (29 years ago, to be precise), optimistically, I'll finish two other projects and be ready to start on the Black Shadow before the end of the year.

Although Graham has done a fantastic job with the web site, its search engine hasn't enabled me to find if someone previously has posted such a complete restoration thread here. There are 3.4k posts in the post-War Tech. Advice category, and various search terms haven't narrowed that number enough for me to find such a thread, if it does exist. Does such a thread exist (here, or anywhere else), and can someone point me to it? But, that's not my real question.

Assuming such a thread does not exist (i.e. a total restoration, not just of individual components[*]), and assuming I spend the time necessary to thoroughly document my restoration in readable form, on what web site should I post it? The obvious answer is "here," but is that actually the best choice?

[*] Two examples of the level of detail I would go into are at:


As alluded to above, a good reason posting it here might not be a good choice is that soon after it is finished it will be buried by later technical posts and the site's search engine won't necessarily find it. If I spend the effort required to write such an extensive thread, I'd like it to be easily found in the future by as many people as possible for whom the information would be useful, not for each post to be read and then forgotten by people who already own Vincents and who are unlikely to actually make use of the information in it.

My three choices seem to be:

1) post it here (but, why here?)
2) post it on another site (but, what site, and why there?)
3) make notes only in enough detail for myself and don't take the time to write, edit and post it on the web.

Opinions, please.
 

manxman

Website User
VOC Member
Whatever you decide, please let us know! I look forward to reading. Please don’t choose your option 3.

If you’re computer-savvy, you might also consider documenting the restoration on video via YouTube. See the “Mighty Garage”—a channel run by a VOC member active on this forum. Believe his name is Mike. He has 70+ videos on his restoration of a Rapide.

So, not directly responsive to your question, apologies, but good luck!
 

Roslyn

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Please take lot of photos as well before and after as they can be big help as I am also thinking of ripping my shadow apart with out breaking any thing to get it on the road but just have some projects to get out of the way before winter sets in.
 

Magnetoman

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
you might also consider documenting the restoration on video via YouTube. See the “Mighty Garage”—a channel run by a VOC member active on this forum. Believe his name is Mike. He has 70+ videos on his restoration of a Rapide.
Videos can be very entertaining, but their information content isn't the same as the written word. I've yet to see a video on a technical topic that is a substitute for written words plus photographs.

If I'm going to document this project, I want to produce something as informative as possible for someone in the future who might face restoring a Vincent themself, not as entertainment. Two rules of thumb for good non-fiction videos are that you need to shoot 10x more "film" than will be in the final video, and that editing just a rough cut takes an hour per minute of final video. Those two "rules" alone explain why I won't be documenting it on youtube.

I must say, I'm very impressed how clean Mike's hands always are in those videos. I've only skimmed through maybe a dozen of them but I have yet to see a dirty hand in any of them.

Coincidentally, I appear briefly in one of his videos, starting at 1'33" into

Please take lot of photos as well before and after as they can be big help ...
For what it's worth, I haven't done a lot to my Shadow over the past 29 years, but just the Kodachromes of that work that contain non-redundant information that I scanned, plus digital photos from the 21st century, make up 173 images. So, not to worry, I take a lot of photos.
 

TouringComet

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
VOC Forum Administrator
VOC Forum Moderator
How about a fourth option, register your own domain name, say, my1950vincentblackshadowrestoration.com, and post your writings/photos there, in whatever format you like, and embed relevant search terms in the web page meta data to make it come up near the top of search engine results?
 

Keith Martin

Website User
VOC Member
The first question I have is why are you wasting time working on BSA’s when you have a Shadow?
I enjoy reading your threads and have learned many things from them. The Vincents seem to have more information out there than all of the other bikes I have worked on but I think you could add some interesting and useful knowledge to what is out there.
This website is very good and the best place for Vincent information I think.
I am in that video also on a Norton.
 

Mike T

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Thank you very much for your great notes. I really appreciate it!

I loved seeing your Ariel at the end of the Cannonball. I remember it clearly. That was one of the best days ever. My brother-in-law came was visiting from Scarborough at the time and it was a fantastic day that I will always remember. Sat with a beer on the lawn looking out over the Columbia River Gorge and all those amazing bikes.

Yes, you’re absolutely right. It takes ages to put the videos together and it’s almost impossible to capture every step… and you know when you don’t, someone is going to comment that you missed it ;)

I did my best to capture the key steps, but you can find yourself spending more time getting the camera angles and lighting setup than actually turning a screw and enjoying the rebuild! ;)

The videos also became a huge part of the restoration, cataloging the videos, equipment, editing, post production, etc. I have learned a ton about editing in Final Cut Pro X and it has been so much fun, but I think it could be a little overwhelming if your heart just isn’t in it.

I like your idea of a BLOG. They can be abbreviated stories and you can include still photos without having to get into editing. You can also go as deep as you like. You can also open up your blog to comments, which are 99.9% very helpful. If you choose a motorcycle platform like Britbike (or here on the VOC forum), you’re also most likely to get like-minded folks involved who can offer great advice. I received tons of help, solid advice and encouragement along the way (especially from my VOC friends and members) with my vids and it helped a lot.

Years ago, @Alp’s Blog about the restoration of his Triumph T110 was instrumental in my own T110 restoration. I couldn’t wait for his posts and was a huge fan from way back then. This was all before Facebook & Youtube. I couldn’t believe how great his picture compositions were, let alone the quality of his workmanship.

Here’s a link to Alp’s old blog on Jockey Journal. Sadly, it looks like the pictures are no longer available as I believe PhotoBucket went kaput (there's another risk):
https://www.jockeyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=78680

And here’s a link to my 56Tiger rebuild:
http://56tiger.blogspot.com

I don’t visit the BritBike forum much these days. You may have seen the AccessNorton forum. It is still vibrant and has a Vincent section. It might be a good alternative, but your Vincent audience would be limited since it’s primarily for Norton guys.

You might have chat with Graham who may be able to setup a separate “thread” on this VOC website. That would definitely be my preference (Option #1), to share it and preserve it here, along with the other Vincent archives for the future.

Good luck with your project!

Best wishes,
Mike
 
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Magnetoman

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
The first question I have is why are you wasting time working on BSA’s
People who live in Triumph houses shouldn't throw stones...

you can find yourself spending more time getting the camera angles and lighting setup than actually turning a screw and enjoying the rebuild!
It turns out I am very well equipped for video, and have made more than enough of them to know just how time consuming it is. Stopping every few minutes to take off gloves, reposition the camera and lighting, putting gloves back on again, and then trying to remember where I left off is a lot of effort, followed by the time just to do a minimal edit of the clips and post them.

It happens that right now we (i.e. my co-curator Ultan Guilfoyle and I) need to make two 2-minute and two 50-minute videos each for the 'The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire' exhibition that will open in Brisbane in two months. Even if Ultan weren't an award-winning documentary filmmaker, neither of us would agree to do this on Zoom. So, we're in the process of deciding just how we want to "film" these in high def. video given that we live a few thousand miles apart and neither of us is about to hop on a plane to go to where the other lives.

You can also open up your blog to comments, which are 99.9% very helpful.
That's actually a downside of doing it as a blog, because the nature of the web is that I'd almost certainly have to lock out comments, keeping me from that benefit. Another downside is such a blog only would remain available for as long as I, or my heirs, paid the annual fee, and that's assuming the hosting organization itself stays in business.

Through the AMCA forum I learned that 'American Iron' recently ceased publication and along with it caimag forum disappeared, which apparently was a treasure trove of Harley information that had been posted there over a number of years. This makes a place like the VOC Forum attractive, since it is more likely to remain in place for longer than some of the other options.

You might have chat with Graham who may be able to setup a separate “thread” on this VOC website.
If I were him I wouldn't be too receptive to this, since he would need to agree to something without any way of fully knowing what he was agreeing to. If I were in his position, I would politely decline.
 

manxman

Website User
VOC Member
I think any thread you posted on this site through the “regular” process would still be accessible (and useful). You would avoid the blog fees and the comments from the regular internet trolls.

You’re right that the search function can be overwhelming, with many entries and discussions being indistinguishable in the results. You can try certain unmistakable/unique keywords in each new thread for each new stage of the process (“magnetoman shadow rebuild, part 1,” for instance) which the users here would learn and recommend to others. Anything you write here you can also quickly copy/paste to a Word doc you can then PDF and post in installments, or as a set. Copies of the OZ Vincent Review are passed about in the same way.

I’m thinking selfishly with respect to the advice above, but from your perspective I would think you’d also benefit from the wisdom of the users here. No forum is perfect but this one is the best I’ve encountered.
 

greg brillus

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
I'm not sure I would have the time or picture posting skills to carry this out, but what I will say is.......Given I work on these bikes full time, I would be happy to share any practical advice and help you will need along the way including any practical upgrades as they arise.........It is a big job........The average time for me to restore a Black Shadow to near original spec is around 300 hours plus........You will get lots of opinions on here about just about every aspect of the machine.......You will know yourself what is best for you........ ordinarily I would wish you Good luck........But as Arnold Schwarzenegger once said in one of his movies....."Luck is for the Ill prepared" and I know that is definitely not you......... Looking forward to it.......... GB.
 

MartynG

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
I think any thread you posted on this site through the “regular” process would still be accessible (and useful). You would avoid the blog fees and the comments from the regular internet trolls.

You’re right that the search function can be overwhelming, with many entries and discussions being indistinguishable in the results. You can try certain unmistakable/unique keywords in each new thread for each new stage of the process (“magnetoman shadow rebuild, part 1,” for instance) which the users here would learn and recommend to others. Anything you write here you can also quickly copy/paste to a Word doc you can then PDF and post in installments, or as a set. Copies of the OZ Vincent Review are passed about in the same way.

I’m thinking selfishly with respect to the advice above, but from your perspective I would think you’d also benefit from the wisdom of the users here. No forum is perfect but this one is the best I’ve encountered.
Could even be co-published in OVR in serialised form - now that would be something!
 

Magnetoman

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
The average time for me to restore a Black Shadow to near original spec is around 300 hours plus........
For what it's worth, when I looked into this issue shortly after I bought the bike 29 years ago, five people who presumably should have known gave me numbers ranging from 145 hours to 1000 hours for them to restore a Vincent twin. Based on my discussions, my notes show that my "estimate" (more like a guess) at the time was it would take me a minimum of 500 hours plus $6500 (~$12,000 in 2020 dollars) to restore it.

It's not like it matters whether or not 500 hours turns out to be anything close to correct because I'll be going forward with this. The estimate was to help me decide how to allocate my time back when I was working full time, when scraping together 500 hours would have taken a few years of "full time, spare time" work. However, I'm retired now so it represents only a year of 10 hours/week in the garage. I certainly waste that much time now working on BSAs...
 
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vibrac

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Simple solution send the text and pictures to MPH on the understanding that each months instalment is placed in the archives that way we can read it non computer people can read it and when the inevitable EM pulse bomb goes off we will still have hard copy
NB magneto equipped originals will be the only transport!
 

timetraveller

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
If this is to be done it should be done well and lessons could be learned from Mike's efforts. I mean no offense to Mike but particularly in some of his earlier postings there were errors which detracted from the general ease with which information can be picked up via this medium. You are clearly an intelligent and highly educated person but consider if you were to be writing a text book on your speciality. I have done this and know that it pays to check and recheck sources and facts. If this is to be your first Vincent rebuild then no matter what your intellect there will be people. Greg is an example, who have more experience in the practicalities of the process than most other individuals. You also need to access more than one source. I will not mention the name but I have seen a video produced by a very well thought of Vincent specialist that contained a serious error. Because of his status that error will be repeated. I think that this would be a really useful project and should aid those who come after us to prolong the useful life of our bikes. My suggestion would be to try to find a few people who have a lot of experience and get them to review each section/chapter of the document before finalising it. This would not be an onerous task for each individual as the 'bite sized' sections would be relatively short, and there might even be some disagreement among these experts, which might indicate that there is more than one way of successfully tackling each process. Good luck with what should be a very worthwhile project.

When it comes to longevity of the final product; a few years ago I renovated and modernised an 1860 manufactured telescope that was one of the highlight of the Victorian era instrument makers art. This was fifteen feet long and weighed many tons. Without destroying the appearance I manged to incorporated stepper motor drives and computer control. This meant inventing a totally new type of telescope drive. The final task was to produce a 'users manual' which could be used for centuries. The telescope was already about one hundred and fifty years old when I did the work and there is no reason it cannot last for more time than that into the future. So how does one try to ensure longevity of the documentation. In my case there was two printed copies, one copy on DVD and another on a USB stick. There were also instructions in the handbook that the content should be copied to updated formats roughly every ten years to ensure that machine readable copies were available to whatever future technologies occur.
 
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Cyborg

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
The first question I have is why are you wasting time working on BSA’s when you have a Shadow?

Thought that was worth repeating.

Vibrac.... those vacuum tubes the Slovaks make aren’t just for audio equipment.... and folks laughed when they saw them in MIGs.

MM. some good suggestions in this thread. Whatever “forum” you use.. given the time, effort and skill required to do this, I think it would be appropriate to have some control over the content. There will no doubt be rabbit holes with sidebars with more rabbit holes when discussing things like bearings, what finish to use on fasteners or what modifications could/should be included in a restoration. As you well know the list of tools and equipment required to do a proper restoration is lengthy. Your BSA thread has been rather enlightening when it comes to the subject of torque plates and cylinder boring. Personally I think those sorts of discussions must be included in the thread (assuming you do a thread) and not siloed elsewhere.
 

MarBl

Website User
VOC Member
Having read and used your extensive documentation about the restoration of Lucas Magnetos, I would find a similar description of a Vincent Twin restoration tremendously helpful.
Having dis- and reassembled a Rapide this summer, I often had to spend more time searching for an information than reading and using it. Of course it is all out there somewhere in the already very helpful books and the forum, but a Haynes Manual-like step by step documentation with a lot of high quality pictures would have saved me a lot of time.

Mikes Videos have been of great help too, since they delivered many of the pictures to illustrate the sometimes difficult to understand descriptions in the books. Actually they have been my main motivation to go for a Vincent at last, after I considered it for a long time, not being sure, what complexity (and fun) to expect from working on one.

A dedicated website for a detailed restoration would be a very good thing. You might even consider to present your other material there as well, since it also took me some time to find your magento restoration guide. Such gems get easily lost in a forum.
 

Magnetoman

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Having dis- and reassembled a Rapide this summer, I often had to spend more time searching for an information than reading and using it.
An expression I learned many years ago is "half of knowledge is knowing where to find it." My original post in this thread mentioned my concern that, while a thread already may exist on the VOC Forum doing exactly what I asked about, the search engine made it impossible, not just to find it if it does exist, but even to determine if it doesn't exist. I consider that to be a major downside to posting my rebuild here. However, as someone suggested, this easily might be solved if Graham added a "Major Projects" section (as opposed to minor projects, like rebuilding a head, adjusting a clutch, relining brakes, etc.).

If all else fails, publish a book.
Anything you write here you can also quickly copy/paste to a Word doc you can then PDF and post in installments, or as a set.
Having had experience with web sites crashing, or the internet connection dropping and losing what I had written before I could hit 'send', for years I've done it the opposite way. I write and edit on Word and then upload the final content when I'm happy with it.

Simple solution send the text and pictures to MPH on the understanding that each months instalment is placed in the archives
As an indication of the scope of what I'm discussing, the thread about rebuilding the 1928 Ariel mentioned in my first post is a Word document that is 278 single-spaced pages long in 10 point font with only small thumbnails of the embedded photographs. The folder containing images (most of which aren't in that thread because of the site's 5 images/post limit) has 1972 photographs.

consider if you were to be writing a text book on your speciality. I have done this and know that it pays to check and recheck sources and facts. If this is to be your first Vincent rebuild then no matter what your intellect there will be people. Greg is an example, who have more experience in the practicalities of the process than most other individuals. You also need to access more than one source.
My graduate students and postdocs working on a given project were, almost by definition, truly the world's experts on whatever the topic was of a given manuscript. But, the final published result always benefited by having been critically read by the others in my group who were working on related projects. That's why the idea of a blog, which because of internet realities would have to be locked to outside comments, isn't reasonable.

As an aside, I've had a lot of experience with writing, having books and manuscripts published, maintaining web pages, and posting motorcycle restoration threads. Despite that experience, the question I posted at the start of this thread has resulted in a number of valuable suggestions. Which is exactly why I posted that question. If I didn't expect there to be a number of excellent suggestions to the content of my Vincent restoration thread that influenced how I proceeded with it, I certainly wouldn't take the time to write it.

As for access to more than one source, immediately after buying the Vincent I compiled a bespoke shop manual consisting of tabbed sections with every piece of technical information I could find in my collection of books and magazines.

040ShopManual.jpg

The tabbed sections in the four binders of that manual roughly correspond to chapters and sub-chapters in Richardson and KNB.

As I've done with similar manuals I made for other bikes I restored, I don't try to edit material before adding it, so each tabbed section contains a mix of correct, incorrect, redundant, and obsolete information, as well as alternative approaches to achieve the same end result. I mentally edit the material in real time as I work on whatever is covered by a particular section.

Whenever new information has appeared since I first set up that manual, I added it, causing it to swell to its current size. For example, some years ago I acquired a fairly complete set of 'MPH' dating back to the first issue in 1949 which, in addition to having articles with technical information that I added to the manual, also had articles describing useful special tools, all of which I then made. Also, I should mention '40 Years On' and 'Another Ten Years'.

When it comes to longevity of the final product;..
I should say I am interested in "reasonable," not perpetual longevity. The problem is that web sites come and go so even seemingly-robust ones have disappeared overnight. Even where a web site hasn't disappeared, often software upgrades have caused information to effectively become unavailable. A few years ago Photobucket abruptly changed its policy on hosting images, with devastating impact on a number of other sites that relied on it. Interestingly, nearly 600 years after Guttenberg, paper copies produced in multiple copies still are the gold standard of 'permanent'.

a Haynes Manual-like step by step documentation with a lot of high quality pictures would have saved me a lot of time.
Don't set your hopes too high. While, ideally, my restoration would proceed in a step-by-step sequence like, say, the chapters in Richardson or KNB, somehow that's never been quite the case for any of my previous restorations. The 278 pages of my Ariel restoration contain everything needed to be, by far, the most complete restoration manual for a 1928 Ariel, but to reorganize the contents into a step-by-step manual would require a lot of time.

As you well know the list of tools and equipment required to do a proper restoration is lengthy. ...

Personally I think those sorts of discussions must be included in the thread
That's an important point. Given the considerable effort creating such a restoration thread represents, part of the implicit (or explicit) "contract" with wherever I post it is that my judgment of what constitutes reasonable content has to prevail. As an example, although I barely mentioned the word "motorcycle" in the following post, I consider its content to be reasonable.

 

vibrac

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
You should not discount the MPH route just consider the total data contained in Ian Hamiltons "How to wear out a Vincent faster" another fine example is "know thy beast" pre internet but an MPH series long before a book. Another aspect is that quality is the watchword not quantity My book the Vincent Black Shadow was far longer before I had to pull it back to the publishers size requirement and is I think the better for it
 

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