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Late G15CS Build

Discussion in 'AJS & Matchless' started by BillT, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. BillT


    Jan 27, 2008
    Back in March of this year, I found a G15CS basket case. The bike had just 2 owners, as far as I know, and was last registered in 1973. The owner I got it from had plans of restoring it for the past 40 years, but finally gave up.

    I only found out about it because an acquaintance of mine was offered the bike and thought it too far gone to restore - definitely not worth the $600 being asked for it. I went and looked at it, and bought it. It is one of those projects that would probably cost more to restore than it's worth, but that's not why many of us do this.

    The bike came home the last weekend in March, and the pic below is what came home:
    Bike on pick up day

    The next three months were spent disassembling the bike and ordering parts. I took it down to the last nut and bolt, wire-wheeled all the fasteners, brackets, spokes and such, and took a 5-gallon bucket down to Airco in Miami. Getting everything plated in clear cadmium cost $140. The 20 or so pieces that needed re-chroming went to a local guy, S A L plating, where I dropped another $500 and change. The primary was a disaster, and it went over to AIM Alloy Welding - which was not a wise move. It took them a lot of time to get the primary in decent condition, and cost over $350 to fix. I would have been better off spending less than $300 for the two or three primaries that went on ebay at the same time. My local guy got me a Devon stainless rim for the front, but was having a time getting the rear - these bikes get the same WM3-18" wheel as the Atlas, except with the larger spokes. Cylinder was bored. Crank, rods and new pistons were balanced by a local machine shop - John's Cages - to a factor of 82%.
    Engine assembled

    While waiting for the rear wheel, I rebuilt the front wheel, forks, transmission, clutch, carbs and engine. I also got several boxes of parts from Walridge Motors and AMC Classic Spares, along with a handful of bits off ebay. After nearly 4 months, I canceled the rear wheel from my local guy, and got a stainless Central Wheel off ebay. With the rear rim in the garage, I was finally able to start putting the bike together.

    July 24 was frame painting day.

    July 25 was assembly day:

    I picked up one of those big organizing bins, and had sorted all the fasteners and brackets from the cad plater - this made assembly of the chassis pretty easy.
    I was quite happy with the spokes and nipples - I had done the same thing with the Ranger.

    After about two weeks of assembly, this is where it sat:

    It was at this point I discovered the harness I had purchased was not going to work - it was for a magneto bike. A few emails back and forth with British Wiring, and they swapped the harness for their P11 harness, which fit quite nicely. The P11 harness will work with late Atlases, G/N15s, P11s and the Mercury.

    By labor day weekend, The bike was pretty complete, save for painting the body panels and waiting for the harness.
    bike with spare tank, checking for fit.

    The following week, I painted the panels
    base color applied - back yard job

    candy applied

    D-stripe masking peeled off

    Status on Sept 19. Barber is getting close!

    New harness finally came on Sept 20. Next week was spent buttoning things up
    Status on Sept 22.

    Buttoning up the primary on Sept 27. Last bit before the roll-out

    More or less done. Too dark to attempt the start. Rolled the bike out the next day, Sept 28, and got it running.

    Would have liked to have more time to sort it out before taking it to Barber, but at least I got it up there.

    Haven't touched it much since I got back - work has been crazy - but should have it sorted in time for the good riding weather coming up 8)

    I have not totaled the receipts, but have a vague, optimistic idea - it's better this way. I can think I spent about $9K without having to explain what it actually cost.
  2. Bernhard


    Apr 20, 2011
    Re; “I have not totaled the receipts, but have a vague, optimistic idea - it's better this way. I can think I spent about $9K without having to explain what it actually cost.”

    And muti -coloured grass to go with the neighbourhood :!:

    Hope you have a great time riding it.
  3. wilkey113


    May 6, 2010
    Your restoration looks amazing!
    My hat is off to you for putting that much time and work into it, and bringing it back to life. Your line about it "costing more to restore than it's worth", is absolutely true, and you hit the nail on the head.
    I always like to remind myself that it's not what you pay for something, it's what you get for it.
    And it looks to me like you've got a great Norton to ride and enjoy.
    Well done!
  4. BillT


    Jan 27, 2008
    Yes Ludwig, you can fit the outer cover with the footrest in place.
    Feed the stator wires through the inner primary, leaving a few inches of slack. Tilt the outer cover up to nearly vertical to slide the stator over the rotor. When the halves are about a half inch apart, rotate the outer back down the its correct position, take up the slack in the wires so they don't foul the chain, and slide the cover home on the two pins. This is best done with the gasket in place on the inner cover. Fit all 14 screws loose before tightening up, then torque as you would any large piece, working from the center out.
    Removing the footrest would be a real pain, as the shaft that runs through the footrests and engine plates also runs through 3 spacers. Once free of the shaft, the footrest would have to be slid off the frame lug, which is no simple task.

    Yes, too, the bike has a skid plate (sump shield). Unlike the aluminum plate of the Ranger, these had plain steel plates, painted black to match the frame. If you look at some of the late assembly pictures, you'll see the bolt heads as the plate blends in with the frame and engine plates.

    This plate has two arcs cut out of it - one on the primary side to clear the side stand lug, one on the timing side to clear the spring, which hooks into a little hole in the frame behind an engine plate lug.
  5. worntorn


    Dec 22, 2006
    Nice work Bill, that is a lot to accomplish in a relatively short time.
    A friend of mine has a basement full of old British bikes he has restored. He didn't pay a lot for any of the basket cases, other than an AJS 7r, but feels any amount paid for a basketcase is a donation to the seller. According to him, the price for the basketcase ought to be "a case of beer at max"
    Reality is that basketcases often bring a substantial amount. A couple of years ago I saw a Commano MK3 for sale at a Swap meet. It was in roughly the same conditon as the bike you just restored. It might have even been worse, the engine and trans had been disassembled then left in damp storage so that many of the internals were pitted with heavy rust. Price was $3,000 and it sold quickly. I talked to the seller after, he figured he could have sold three like it that day. Sometimes we are just too eager to find a project.
    I often wonder if it is still sitting in someone's basement waiting for many thousands of dollars in parts and a thousand hours of work!

  6. speirmoor

    speirmoor VIP MEMBER

    Apr 11, 2010
    Beautiful build BillT . Best of luck with it. You have a really nice collection I must say
  7. BillT


    Jan 27, 2008
    There's a show on the cable channel, Velocity, called 'Chasing Classic Cars'. In an older episode, the host (Wayne Carini) looked at a Series II E-type Jaguar roadster in a garage. The car had been largely disassembled and the body was suspended from the rafters with straps. It was complete, but a total basket case, and the owner had passed away several years ago. I remember the Wayne telling the widow that the car would be worth somewhere between $100-150K restored, but the restoration would be at least that much, meaning the car was worth nothing. But the car is not worth nothing, he went on to explain. It still has some intrinsic value for someone looking for just this model. The parts alone could fetch many thousands of dollars, but that would mean parting out a complete car to complete perhaps a couple dozen other projects. The goal is to find a buyer willing to overpay for his passion.

    Nobody would do this if it were just a rational decision.
  8. BillT


    Jan 27, 2008
    My wife took this phone video of the start-up.
    http://s1326.photobucket.com/user/BillT ... e.mp4.html
    Ran a bit rough - bit of gunk in the pilot jets, but this is the first time it moved under its own power in 40+ years. Had it purring pretty well by the afternoon.
  9. BillT


    Jan 27, 2008
    Update on the G15...

    Bike is pretty much sorted, but I haven't had much time with it since the start-up with my new job.

    Took the 3 of them to our local show the last weekend in January
    The Ranger won the Norton class - I think 10 bikes were entered. A 1939 16H came in 2nd, and my '73 850 came in 3rd

    The Matchless took a second in the 'Other English 1960-up' class. A very nice bathtub Velocette won. In the older 'Other' class, there was a 1950 Matchless G9 with a little over 100 original miles on it. Bike was a leftover floor model, which the Philadelphia-area dealer put into storage sometime in 1951. It was sold at an estate sale to the present owner about 2 years ago :shock:

    Both the Ranger and G15 were invited to last week's Boca Raton Concours d'Elegance. The Matchless tied for first in its class with a 1973 X75 Hurricane. Last year, the Ranger tied for first against this same bike.

    Next big thing for me is 'Riding Into History' in May at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine.

    Took the G15 to run some errands today. Nobody at Home Depot or the grocery store knew what it was.
  10. grandpaul

    grandpaul VIP MEMBER

    Jan 15, 2008
    It's mighty hard to argue with classic lines and elegant simplicity.

    ...being Red doesn't hurt, either...

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