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Restoring the last of the series "A" Comets.


greg brillus

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Hi all, I have started on the restoration of what I believe to be either the 2nd or 3rd to last of the pre-war Comets. I am well vised on the post war machines, but new to the pre-war machines, and as well as this original machine, I have a brand new "A" twin replica to build plus the "Speedway special" I am building as well. So I will be having a good run on the earlier machines, which I am looking forward to. Basically what I want to know is some of the finer details about these machines, and given this is the last of them, I would say some of the details could differ from the earlier machines. For example........The wheel hubs on this machine look to be post war hubs ........Until you hold a magnet up to them.......They are steel/iron of very similar specs to the post war front hubs of alloy as we know. So this is where I need assistance from those who know. I would really like to know details about nuts, bolts, studs.......What finish were they........? Most all the ancillary bolts I removed when striping this bike were aircraft bolts, giving a hint as to its previous owners occupation perhaps. This bike did come from America, and all the normal black parts were painted in a rather dull red finish, obviously not original. The bike is quite complete, though partially dismantled......Some missing items, Rear and side stands, rear number plate, exhaust system, and the correct clip fit carburetor. I would like to know the finish details of items such as wheel components, and most anything that owners of such machines know about originality. I know some items are near imposable to find, but I would like to bring it back as close to original as I can. Any help here on in would be greatly appreciated. Cheers for now...............Greg.
 

Marcus Bowden

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Greg my handsome, my you have many a happy hour in the restoration, will it be ready for this time next year ? The reason I ask is that we have just completed the Tasmanian Tour of Classic Motorcycles, 100 or a couple more, all prior to 70's. The most popular make were Vincent's and the most popular model were Series "A" Rapide's , five in total three originals and two replicas. Next year we five owners are planning a trip to NZ for their Annual & AGM which I believe will be in South Island. Many years ago I realised an "A" rap had never been on NZ soil and tried to get Old Harry out there in 1995 but it wasn't ready, now we are planning an "A" invasion next year.
bananaman
 

vin998

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Greg. As you may know I restored my late father's A a few years ago and tried to get it as near as possible to correct. Steven photographed the bike at the French rally last year. I know there are things not correct and learnt a lot during the restoration. Some details will never be known and as mine is a very early 37 it may be different to the 39 Comet you are restoring. Ask away or send me an email, I may have an answer. There are quite a few A owners on this forum.
The very last A's had what looks like post war wheel hubs, but they were cast iron. Unlike the post war bikes, series A's had the same width hub for front and back. I have never handled a late iron hub for an A so I don't know how they assemble. As a note the wheel rims are just chrome plated and and NOT lined like the post war bikes. Early A's from 35 & 36 had black nuts & bolts, but I believe later bikes used cadmium plated. Maybe somebody else knows exactly. You could ask Andrew Walker the series A section organiser. He has had problems with emails but I believe this has now been sorted.

Simon
 

mercurycrest

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Greg. As you may know I restored my late father's A a few years ago and tried to get it as near as possible to correct. Steven photographed the bike at the French rally last year. I know there are things not correct and learnt a lot during the restoration. Some details will never be known and as mine is a very early 37 it may be different to the 39 Comet you are restoring. Ask away or send me an email, I may have an answer. There are quite a few A owners on this forum.
The very last A's had what looks like post war wheel hubs, but they were cast iron. Unlike the post war bikes, series A's had the same width hub for front and back. I have never handled a late iron hub for an A so I don't know how they assemble. As a note the wheel rims are just chrome plated and and NOT lined like the post war bikes. Early A's from 35 & 36 had black nuts & bolts, but I believe later bikes used cadmium plated. Maybe somebody else knows exactly. You could ask Andrew Walker the series A section organiser. He has had problems with emails but I believe this has now been sorted.

Simon
I almost fell over learning late A's had cast iron hubs, was it because alloy was needed for the war?
Cheers, John
 

vin998

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
I almost fell over learning late A's had cast iron hubs, was it because alloy was needed for the war?
Cheers, John
Don't know why the last few series A's had cast iron hubs. Maybe they thought the new design was not strong enough in alloy? The bike Greg is restoring was built approx 6 weeks before the outbreak of war.
Simon
 

vibrac

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
In some respects especially in the 10 hole version the cast alloy hubs are marginal
 

Robert Watson

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
I have seen them but only fitted to machines and not loose in my hand. They look like post war spool type hubs but are magnetic. I assumed they were steel but vin998 says cast iron. Scott Dell's and Harvey Bowden's A Rapides both have them. Harvey had to bolt a rear brake drum on in Tassie that had worked loose so would know better (or Marcus) if they are dimensionally the same as the post war alloy ones.
 

greg brillus

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Thanks for the replies so far......Yes the hubs are very close to post war ones, and VERY HEAVY. I'm guessing this was an attempt at producing a simpler design over the earlier multi piece alloy/steel hubs that are more common, an I do have one and a half of those types that came with this bike in the boxes of spares that came with it. Because we only have the one, I am getting my machinist to make a copy for the front. Tim suggested I get more made up for some spares if others need them, but I'm thinking that because they were only used on the last of the pre-war bikes there may be no demand for them. Any thoughts....? One small point of interest about these hubs, where the hub bolts pass through and the nuts screw onto the threads, if you use the 5/16 BSF nyloc nuts as per normal, the points of the nuts hit the hub as the nuts are turned. This would suggest to me that perhaps they used a nut with smaller hex size like the ones on the built up hubs of earlier, though I'm not sure these are available in a self locking nut or whether they used thin section spring washers under the heads. I also noticed on the rear drum/sprocket that it uses the normal 10 bolt set up, is this right or should it be a 5 bolt pattern. These last built bikes seem to have gone though some minor changes perhaps as the factory were refining some ideas that passed on to the post war bikes, remembering post war that alloy was plentiful whereas steel was not. Before I assemble up the hubs I will take some good pictures of them and somehow put them on here for you to see. Cheers..........Greg.
 

greg brillus

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Regarding Marcuus post number 2, Yes it would be great to take it over for the rally in NZ my home country. Though the bike is not mine, I'm sure it could be arranged perhaps. I would say I will have it finished before then, but it depends on how hard some parts are to obtain, although with Neal and Rodney building several replicas with the possibility of a couple more, they might be a good supply of some parts. Does anyone know if the pre war Burman gearbox's have the same internal gears as the post war ones. I know the outer housings are different, but very similar in principle with the addition of the speedo drive for the square fours and so on. Regarding the tank side knee pads, are there others available other than the Indian made ones, or are these ok to use. Cheers......Greg.
 

vin998

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Jim Hunter Engineering in UK makes the knee pads in decent rubber. My brother recently bought a pair from him. Bob Stafford used to get them made somewhere and it may have been from Jim. Here is a website with Jim's details. Its not his website and is a few years out of date:
http://www.barnstormers.co.nz/barnstormers/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Jeff-Hunter-PDF.pdf

The quality of the Indian made ones is unknown, but I have bought footrest rubbers from India as a quality trial and they cracked and split within a year.

I believe the gearbox internal gears are the same apart from the way some post war gears run on bronze bushes on the layshaft where the pre war boxes the gears run direct on the shafts. Maybe sombody else could confirm that.
 

Albervin

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Like Post war Vincents the pre war items were built to order. My A Comet had no knee pads from day one. It was a 1938 model built to almost Replica level because the factory stopped making the
Comet special and TT replica when the Twins came online. This led to a lot of variation in the specs. We all know (?) about the Series B Series A, the modified oil pump, oil return, cylinder head, cams etc.
I didn't know of the hub change but not totally surprised. There was a C Comet in Tassie that sold a couple of years ago with a complete Series A front wheel assembly.
Today I spoke to an acquaintance with a long Vincent history and told him about my '49 Shadow. When told it was an HRD with Vincent transfers his reply was Bullsh*t. No such thing as a
standard Vincent!
 

Marcus Bowden

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
I've changed a few items in Old Harry's box and use a heavy gear oil as I don't like grease for this sort of application, Alton alternators & angle grinders,hand drill gearboxes always strip them and add oil. Three bikes with double speed Alton's and never stripped a nylon gear yet as all filled with oil.
The Square Four Speed-o drive, plug I removed and fitted a dip stick dolly-ing it up with a club badge. and easier to fill than the other location. Using it frequently it's got to be practical for me, as it's checked more easily, one can't see Jack Sh-1-t through the large screw cap.
bananaman.
 

greg brillus

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
I see your point, try checking same on a Square four and you'll need eyes on the end of a small stick. Probably easier on a single, though I generally use Penrite semi-fluid grease in these types, and dead easy to fill with a good sized hand pump and a short length of transparent flexible tube. Not a pot or stove in sight.
 

STEPXL

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Gents was going to upload a file [pictures] of the 1939 Series A Greg is restoring, But get this message the file was only 200 KB. Administrator please advise.
The following error occurred
There was a problem uploading your file.
 

BigEd

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
VOC Forum Moderator
Gents was going to upload a file [pictures] of the 1939 Series A Greg is restoring, But get this message the file was only 200 KB. Administrator please advise.
The following error occurred
There was a problem uploading your file.
Did you try dragging and dropping your file onto your post?
 

STEPXL

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Dear Big Ed that worked a treat.
Anyway gents please see some pictures of our 1939 Series A that Greg Brillus is restoring. Ignore the post war front wheel its only placed in forks to move it around the workshop, The Comet once belonged to Marty Dickersen





P1010292.jpg P1010295.jpg P1010296.jpg P1010298.jpg P1010301.jpg P1010302.jpg P1010307.jpg P1010313.jpg P1010314.jpg
 

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