This component is of a special configuration to accommodate the Albion racing gearbox and thus unique to the Grey Flash.
This modification was performed in antiquity but for what purpose we’re not sure.There is an argument that it was done for purposes of lightening though we think it may have been undertaken to enable easier removal of the gearbox.
Certainly, this is an original piece, although altered. To try to replicate the shape accurately without a similar part as a template would be be nigh on impossible.
This part would almost certainly have been silver anodised though it’s difficult to discern now.
The bridge plate, from the front fork assembly, appeared to have some age to it. A standard bridge plate, stamped ‘FF32’, would have been anodised but was listed with the suffix of /1.
Two layers of paint were removed – a good sign! many of the parts had been painted twice: The top layer had been applied by Peter Johnson and Terry Prince and beneath that we found another layer of paint and primer that had been applied years previously. Peter has told me that when he acquired the “bones” of the bike many of the parts had already been painted, so we knew that this layer of finish had been applied in antiquity and, at the same time, to other key parts (such as the forks). Removing it proved a bit of a task as it was stubbornly impervious to Bert’s preferred method of stripping using thinners.
The finish indicates that it likely to be original to the bike, which means the bridge plate is also an original anodised part.
The above shot shows the bridge plate next to the G50 pivot bearing plate which is an original part, albeit modified in-period. The finish is identical which leads us to conclude that the FF32 bridge plate is the one that 2751 left the works fitted with.
Now that we have ascertained the correct anodised finish on the fork legs, and have a reference point, we can compare other alloy parts, that we suspect to be anodised, to see whether they show signs of the same finish. If they do then we can be certain that they are original to the bike. It should be noted that these parts are listed, in the Parts List, with the parts number suffix of /1. This designates them as having the non standard anodised finish. This suffix was not cast into parts themselves as the parts were standard items differing only in their finished appearance.
FF1/1 Head Clip
Plenty of the exotic anodised finish evident here. And with the bearing race removed it was visible in the hidden area underneath. This is especially important as anodizing can be hard to detect on unmachined surfaces.
FF4/1 Top Link
Very happy to have gotten to the bottom of this. It would appear that the complete fork assembly remained together as one unit.
FF11/1 Handlebar Clamps
To now know that these items are original to the bike is incredibly satisfying and more than we had expected.
The following jobs have been undertaken on the UFM:
The fuel tank mounting bolt holes had been drilled out and helicoiled for more substantial bolts. Bert machined up two plugs, threaded them and Loctited™ them into place. These will enable us to use the standard 5/16″ BSF tank bolts again.
Remote Float Bracket Removal
This bracket had been brazed onto the UFM to enable a place where a remote float bowl could be hung. During Peter Johnson’s last year of racing, a hotter cam was fitted. This cam was copied from a profile formulated by renown Aussie racer Eric “Debbo” Debenham and required a change to a GP2 carb fed by the remote float bowl.
The bracket was carefully ground off. It would have been nice to have left it but it prevented the fuel tank from seating properly. Using the blog search feature to look for “fuel tank” will locate the section where I detailed how I’d managed to acquire the original fuel tank in New Zealand. This early tank was interacting with the bracket and so it had to go…
The brazing work had distorted the UFM and some cracking was visible. The cracks will be sealed with solder and the scar painted over with suitably coloured paint.
18.08.20 The soldering work has been completed. The resulting covering of solder is not very pleasing to the eye but a proper repair was necessary as the previous soldering job, to repair cracks caused by brazing the bracket on, was not effective and the cracks had been weeping oil.
Tomorrow Bert will put some petrol in the UFM and leave it for a while to ensure the leak has been well ‘n’ truly sealed.
The engine has not been stripped down and we have no plans to take it apart unless deemed necessary. This venerable unit has seen a hard life but was in perfect mechanical condition when the bike was sold to Japan in 1989. Whilst in that country, the bike was only used a few times so we’re not expecting there to be any major issues internally. And we are planning to start and run the bike once the restoration has been completed.
The bike would have left The Works fitted with a Vibrac connecting rod – I have a lead on an NOS one but the work required to fit something that (i) can’t be seen and (ii) will be of dubious structural strength seems counter-productive.
As mentioned in a previous post, the Girdraulic fork legs, which are original to the bike, were anodised. This Grey Flash, the third production bike, was a new model for Vincent and they were trying to impress the market. To this end, the bike left The Works with eye-grabbing finishes – later Grey Flashes were simply painted grey. The dull chromium plate has been easy to spot, once the paint was stripped off the parts. However, whether alloy parts still showed signs of anodising has proven frustratingly difficult to ascertain. You see, the anodised finish was silver in colour which looks very similar to bare aluminium, especially on castings. The forks looked incredible, once they’d been stripped of their paint, and we knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that (i) they were original to the bike and (ii) they would have been anodised. They would be the perfect reference point for comparing other parts to, to see whether those parts were anodised or not. Then I remembered that I had an original, untouched Girdraulic fork leg stashed away at home. So, I arranged to have it dug out and my mum sent it to Bert. Once it had arrived, he stripped off the stove enameling and laid it next to one of 2751’s legs.
We were blown away by what we found. Aside from all the usual dings and scratches visible on the standard leg, the whole part was covered in casting blemishes and imperfections. These would have had to have been labouriously polished out prior to anodizing.
“Anodising is a method for changing the surface chemistry of metals and other substrates. It protects against corrosion, enhances aesthetic qualities, resists scratching and is one of the most durable surface finishes available.”
This explains why 2751’s fork legs look so good after all these years. In addition, at some time they were painted (Bert removed two layers of different paint) which added a further level of protection. And it’s very fortunate that whomever painted them, refrained from roughing the metal surface to provide a “key” for the paint.
This exercise has taken some organising but we have achieved a satisfying result. This not only allows us to see just how special the forks are but gives us a solid reference point when trying to ascertain whether other alloy parts are anodised or not, which, if they are, will mean that those parts are original to the bike. Very, very happy about this. 🙂
The F55 front brake balance beam is the one that came fitted to the 2751 when I acquired it.
We have no way of knowing whether this part is original to the bike or not, possibly not as it’s showing no signs of plated finish.
To my knowledge, these were not drilled at The Works and Grey Flashes were dispatched with regular undrilled items.
We cannot assume this part is original to the bike. But it has been on it a very long time, has period lightening modifications and, as such, is a valuable part of the bike’s history. It has been prepped prior to being dull chromium plated.