Lights On – Again

Now that I’ve taken the sidecar off the Panther I can again ride her as a solo.

First time out felt a bit strange, probably because it’s been on sidecar for a while and the tyres will have worn to suit a sidecar outfit.

Since it’s only been for around 1500 miles they’ll soon wear back to suit a solo so that’s no real problem, especially as she will not be used as a performance machine.

Once I got back home I realised that the headlamp was not working, in fact none of the electrics were!.

First thoughts were that I’d managed to blow the main fuse but a quick look showed that this was not so, and then I saw that the stop light was still working.

This showed that the battery was still charged and its connections were sound.

But the stop-light is not fed from the headlamp area, it has its own feed from the battery, so suspicion fell onto the wiring and it was out with the multimeter.

The wiring system on this old lady is laughably simple when compared with that on a modern machine.

There is a wire runs between the battery and the ammeter.

Another wire runs between the regulator and the main switch.

One runs from the switch back to feed the rear light and then I’ve added an extra one from the headlamp shell to the frame ground point and that’s the main fore and aft loom!.

There is in addition a connection between the ammeter and the main switch and then there’s the wiring going to the headlamp itself plus that to the speedometer bulbs and to the horn.

The headlamp is normally grounded through the frame of the bike but since I had added a grounding wire as a back-up, suspicion was on the battery lead to ammeter wire.

I used the multimeter to test between the ammeter and the headlamp shell and sure enough there was no power showing.

Suspect point was where the loom flexes as it exits from under the fuel tank and crosses to the headlamp shell.

Normally there would be only a small amount of movement here but I’ve had a sidecar fitted, this means that as with a sidecar fitted you actually steer by turning the bars there is much more movement, and hence flexing of the loom here.

Sure enough, I could feel a break in one of the wires here and so decided to splice in a new section of wire.

This meant taking the tank off to get access, so it had to be drained!, typically I’d just tanked up, luckily only to half-full!.

I opened up the loom at the break to find the wire had totally parted and so I pulled that wire out of the loom further back to under the tank to make a splice.

Until now I’d assumed it was the main battery feed wire forward had parted but it turned out to be the additional grounding wire I’d added! Shows how unreliable a frame ground can be!.

To be safe I checked by running a temporary ground wire from the headlamp to battery ground and – Lo and Behold everything worked!.

This made life much easier as the ground point inside the headlamp is much simpler to reach than the power point!.

Rather than just bridging the break I ran the new wire from the splice point under the tank direct to the headlamp ground, this meant I only had the one splice in the wire, less potential for problems!.

A swift check of the system again and everything was working so it was just putting things back together, add fuel and we were back on the road.

A Further Update

I’ve had the R12 out a couple of times now and so it’s time to think of the sidecar. As I’ve said before this is a composite of a Steib S350 body on a Steib LS200 chassis

Steib LS 200 Chassis

Steib S350 Sidecar

First thing is lights!.

I can’t just swap the mudguard from the Panther’s chassis over, although this would be the simplest way, because the guard mounting systems are totally different, and anyway the LS 200 chassis is a Steib and so has the “art deco” flared guard rather than the old style half-circle guard.

Old Style Mudguard
Steib Sidecar Mudguard

The guard I have for it is a fibre-glass reproduction so the lamps on it need to be independently eatrthed, and then I’ve to fit indicators as well.

On a Steib the sidecar lights are built into the grab handle on the mudguard.

Steib Grab Handle

There is a tunnel cast into this handle that normally only carries a single wire forward to connect between the front and rear lights, power being fed into the handle by a hole through the guard at the rear mount.

This tunnel now carries the power leads for both the front light and the indicator as well as an earth lead, the leads to the indicator carrying on through the guard at the front mount of the grab handle.

For the indicators I’ve used a smaller version of the mounts I made for the Panther chassis, 2 inch diameter tube rather than 2½ inch and fitted with amber LED units sourced from the Internet.

New Indicator Units

I’ve changed to using LED bulbs in the grab handle as well and I’m using a stop/tail in the rear light.

Also, since the standard Steib rear light is rather small I’ve fitted an LED light into the rear reflector unit, so converting it into another rear light.

Steib Rear Reflector

This all means that now there is now a 4 wire loom leaving the mudguard to connect to the bike rather than the original single wire.

I’m also fitting a spotlight onto the chassis in front of the mudguard. This is also fitted with an LED bulb and is meant to act as both a DRL and as a running light.

Spotlight cum DRL

I’ve had to be a bit crafty here.

My R12 was built back in 1940 and her generator is of rather limited output, nominally of 6 Volts and all of 36 Watts!.

As standard on 6 volt electrics it would balance the lighting load of a solo machine and still have a little in hand to keep up the battery, but with a sidecar fitted there’s no leeway at all.

While I have converted the dynamo to give 12 volts output using a modern electronic regulator, which does help a lot, full lights on all the time are not really feasible, although the use of LED lights does help a bit.

So what I’ve done is to wire the spotlamp and the pilot bulb to work separately from the main lights, worked with a separate switch on the ‘bars, and I’ve fitted a 10 watt Halogen bulb in the pilot position as well.

The crafty is that there is also a feed from the sidecar running lights to the spotlight so that it will come on with the normal lights as well, I’m running with a right-hand sidecar in UK where the Rule of the Road is to drive on the left so I want a large front light on the sidecar side.

Problem is that doing this has power back-feeding both ways so with the lights switched off but the DRLs on the other lights come on as well so to counter this both feeds to the spotlight now go through diodes, as does the feed to the pilot light.

This means that I can now have two bright white lights showing to the front in daylight hours with only a small load on the generator but this extra load is not there when the main lights are on – so now, with the spotlight, there are 5 wires to connect between the bike and sidecar.

Traditionally this would be done using a nest of bullet connectors but I’ve opted for the neater way of using a 6-way “mini-connector”, as is used in a modern bike’s cable loom, with a feed for the other indicator in the 6th position.

This is because the R12 will comfortably be able to tow my lightweight box trailer and of course that means I need to feed all the trailers lights and indicators.

6-Way Connector

The trailer will make life easier when going on a camping event, my two dogs travelling in the sidecar and the gear in the trailer.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = == = = = = = = = = =

For any of you who want to tell me that LED lights are not legal to use on the roads I’ll point out that this bike was built in 1940 and so comes under the old regs.

These only ask for “A white light to the front and a red light to the rear” and do not ask for a kitemark or “E” numbers on the lights. After all people were still using acetylene gas lights on vehicles back then :^)}.

Update on the R12

Following from the last post the top coating repair on the front mudguard has been completed.

When I had a look at things the next day I was very happy as to the finish, the “Craftsman” paint I was trying out as a replacement for my old favourite “Tekaloid” came through with flying colours.

Only trouble was the contrast with the old paint, this had weathered over time so the new paint stood out like the proverbial on a barn door!.

So I broke out the “T-Cut” and gave the guard a good rub down and that did the trick, you no longer noticed the repair unless you looked closely, snag is I now have to do the rest of the bike to get it to match the front mudguard!.

The pressed-steel framed BMW’s, such as the R12, are quite heavily pinstriped so this repair has left a gap in the lining on the front guard that I’ll need to patch, so I now need to break out the lining brushes.

Lining is properly done free-hand and the difficult bit is getting a tight curve without smearing. My way round this is to mask out the line so that any smear goes onto the masking tape, problem is that with the BMW double line I’ll need to do one line and let it harden off before I can mask off to do the other.

I’ve also had the old girl out on the road for a run to see how things were.

I found that while she was willing to start and run, the start-up from cold was not as willing as it used to be and she was very reluctant to start from hot.

What I’ve done today is to treat her to a pair of new plugs, the old ones had been in for a long time now. I’ve also had the carburetters off and stripped and cleaned them, they have been standing for a couple of years and what fuel had been left in them had dried out and left a “varnish” of crud inside the passages and jets.

Fortunately she’s running on a pair Amal 276’s and these are an easy carb to strip down and clean.

I’ll need to synchronise the slides opening before I take her out again and while that’s a fiddly job it’s not that difficult.

I’ve also offered up the sidecar chassis to the bike. Before I actually fit it I’m wanting to rig a sidecar brake. I had a sidecar brake on the Panther outfit and found it useful, after all the bikes brakes are from the 1930’s and brake technology has come a fair way since then so every little helps.

The rear brake on the R12 is operated with a heel operated pedal on the right-hand side. What I’m doing is to mount another pedal onto the sidecar chassis with a lever coming straight across to the bike and level with the bike’s rear brake pedal, so that its pad lies alongside the bike’s one. This means that when I apply the bike’s brake I’ll also apply the sidecar brake as well, and by rocking my foot I can vary their relative pressures.

However I’ll also be able to apply either brake on its own to give differential braking which can be useful to assist in cornering.

Only thing now is that while I’ve the brake pedal set up I’ve still to arrange the cable fitment at the drum end of the system, as a “By The Way” the chassis I’m using is from an LS200 Steib. The wheel is from a Ural/Dneiper, a half width hub that looks in keeping with the R12 and the brake itself is an Enfield type from a rigid-framed Panther.

What’s Happening??


It’s been a while since I posted anything on this blog, too long! But there’s not been much happening with the bikes as they’ve been running well. However I’m feeling in need of a change now so–.

I took the sidecar off the big Panther a couple of days ago, not the easiest of jobs when working on your own, but do-able, the body is now up on a pair of trestles in the shed and the chassis is in the back yard.

The Panther now stands as a solo in the garage, but she’s not on her own as the old BMW has been brought out of storage and is standing beside her. They make a good pairing, the 600cc 1937 Panther M100 and the 750cc 1940 BMW R12.

Although the Panther has the smaller displacement engine of the two she is the more powerful at 26bhp to the BMW’s 20bhp, but the BMW is a twin cylinder side-valve with a heavy external flywheel so is possibly the better slogger of the two, still neither was intended as a sports bike.

Anyway the BMW is set up with a full set of Steib quick release sidecar fittings so once I have the chair set up for her I can drop it on and off in around five minutes work, Useful!!

Now, what does the BMW need doing to get her in commission again?

Well her battery is an AGM sealed unit and has survived her laying up, still showing about half-charged when I put it on the charger. She is magneto ignition and that’s sparking well but I’ll treat her to a new pair of plugs.

How about oils?, well oil is cheaper than metal so it’s new oil all round, and owing to her age it’s an old-fashioned non-detergent type oil. Equally I needed new drain and filler plug gaskets.

On a machine of this age these should be the hollow rolled-copper type rather than the solid aluminium ones BMW now supply. A quick rake round on ebay soon found a supplier of these in the neccessary 14mm and 18mm sizes.

Rather than run her up to hot on the old oil I let her drain out overnight and then it was just a case of fill the engine to between marks on the dip-stick and the gearbox and final drive until the oil reached the bottom of the filler hole threads.

Now came the acid test, she’d been stored with a dry tank so I put a half-gallon of fuel into the tank, no leaks visible! GOOD!!, turn on the tap (which way is “ON” and which is “RESERVE”??, I can’t remember!! ).

OK, the carbs had filled so a good tickle on each carb, crack open the throttle and turn over the engine several times to prime the cylinders, then it was just switch on the ignition and kick her over.

While she fired she didn’t pick up so a tad more throttle, try again and the old girl was running again! Tick-over balance is a bit off but I’ll need her warmed through to set that up so it will have to wait.

Now I know she’s a runner what else needs doing.

An immediate obvious is indicators!. Last time out she was hauling the chair.

I know it’s non-original but on modern roads an outfit NEEDS indicators and now you can use LED units without overloading the electrical system so she was fitted up with lights on one side, the others being on the chair. So it was get another pair of indicators and fit them.

I had to make up (and paint) a set of mounting brackets for them, run in the wiring and then tap it into the circuit to the sidecar indicators, a quick check and found they were working.

Next thing was cosmetics, the front mudguard needed some serious touch-up where the paint had been badly scarred and had started lifting while the old lady had been sitting in the storage unit.

Fortunately it can be redone while still on the bike as it would be serious hassle to remove it and then given a dose of “T-Cut” after about a fortnight’s curing followed by a polish job should see things OK.

As I’m writing this she’s standing in the garage with the first top coat on the guard giving it time to harden off before she’s put away for the night, another coat tomorrow should then see it ok.

I can’t really complain as both guards were in a bad state when I got the bike back at the beginning of the Eighties and they needed serious patching to be made usable, since then she has seen some serious mileage!

That Clutch!

Last time out on my Velocette Viper the clutch was‭ “‬not what it should be‭” ‬and remembering what the plates were like last time she was apart I decided on a re-line.

Since the plates were now some‭ ‬50‭ ‬years old I opted on fitting new plates rather than just replacing the Ferodo inserts in the old plates and so ordered the‭ “‬kit‭” ‬of new plates from Grove Classics<>. The parts were ordered on Tuesday morning,‭ ‬delivered Wednesday morning‭! ‬that’s service‭!!‬.

So it was out into the garage and start work.

First thing is to clear the decks so it’s remove the dynamo drive covers and drive as well as the rear chain sprocket cover and the sprocket itself.

Primary Case

Velocette Primary Drive












Next is remove the screws holding the two halves of the primary chain-case together.

Last time it was down I used silicone sealer on the gasket and this time it’s proved a right swine to split the joint This time on re-assembly I’ll grease one face so it doesn’t happen like that again‭!‬.

Before I can split the case however I need to remove the dynamo drive pulley,‭ ‬this doubles as the nut securing the primary drive shock absorber and requires Velocette special spanner No.‭ ‬A220‭ ‬to engage with the castellations of the nut.‭

A rake around the tool boxes found this,‭ ‬and its mate,‭ ‬the AS61/2AS clutch peg spanner.

After starting it with a blow from a copper/hide mallet on the A220 spanner the pulley was unscrewed and the chain-case split to give access to the clutch.

Primary Drive

Primary Drive












On a Velo the clutch is unusual in it being on the sleeve gear and‭ ‬hence inboard of the final drive sprocket.‭

This is due to the Velo’s very narrow crankshaft and slim crankcases and this makes the clutch actuation different from the normal run of things.

Instead of it having only‭ ‬4‭ ‬or perhaps even‭ ‬6‭ ‬biggish clutch springs,‭ ‬each one in a separate mount on the top housing, there are‭ ‬16‭ ‬small‭ ‬springs,‭ ‬all in a mount at the clutch hub,

This mount however allows you to adjust the spring pressure on all‭ ‬16 springs‭ ‬at once rather than having to muck about with adjusting each individual spring on its own,‭ ‬and this “spring hub” is lifted by an annular thrust race,‭ ‬similar to as in a car clutch.

Clutch Spring Carrier

Clutch Spring Carrier












The hub‭ ‬piece is in two parts,‭ ‬the spring carrier itself, which screws into the clutch top plate and the pressure piece the springs bear against which doubles up as the clutch securing nut‭ ‬and screws onto the sleeve gear and secures the clutch back-plate.

There is a locking plate fitted to prevent this nut loosening off and which is secured by a‭ ‬small countersunk screw. so next step is to remove this screw and‭ ‬the locking plate,‭ ‬then by applying the AS61/2AS peg spanner, unscrew this clutch nut.

‭ ‬To do this though the primary drive has to be locked to prevent the clutch being turned by the spanner, but replacing the engine shock absorber will do this,‭ ‬engine compression being enough for the job.

On a‭ “‬normal‭” ‬clutch,‭ ‬when you remove the pressure plate its lifting piece tends to drop away and you then remove the clutch piecemeal.‭

On a Velo however,‭ ‬once the securing nut is undone,‭ ‬the clutch is removed in one piece and there are THREE lift pins going through the clutch backplate. These will of course drop onto the floor if you don’t watch for them‭!‬. (I snap a couple of rubber bands round the clutch assembly to hold everything together.)

Now you have the complete clutch assembly in your hands to take to the bench and work on in comfort.

Clutch on Bench

Velocette Clutch on Bench












You just unscrew the spring carrier from the front plate and put it and the securing nut to one side for‭ ‬now.

Then you lift off the front plate,‭ ‬this is a machined part and not just a stamping as in most bike clutches.

Below this is an insert plate,‭ ‬which tabs into the clutch drum, then comes a plain plate which tabs into the front plate,‭ ‬next again is the clutch drum and sprocket assembly.

The drum is formed on both sides of the clutch sprocket. which also carries a set of inserts and so acts as another insert plate.

On the gearbox side of the sprocket next‭ ‬comes a plain plate followed by‭ ‬an insert plate,‭ then ‬another plain plate,‭ ‬another insert plate and then the clutch main body/back-plate so you have a‭ ‬9-plate clutch.

This whole assembly is only just over an inch thick‭! (‬1.070‭“ ‬with the new plates‭!)‬,‭ ‬a VERY slim assembly yet it will cope with the‭ ‬140mph performance of a‭ ‬500cc Thruxton Venom as well as it does the‭ ‬90mph performance of my little‭ ‬350cc Viper.

Slim Clutch

A Very Slim Clutch !












With the clutch apart it’s now a case of cleaning things and then re-assemble,‭ ‬this can be a bit fiddly getting all the plate tabs to seat in their respective grooves but once the body is assembled a couple of rubber bands snapped over will hold everything together.

Attention now is turned to the spring assembly,‭ ‬there are‭ ‬16‭ ‬springs,‭ ‬each‭ ‬1.125‭” ‬long by‭ ‬0.275‭“ ‬diameter,

I’m fitting new springs as well so it’s just take out the old and fit the new but if not then the springs need to be checked for distortion‭ ‬.

When you fit the pressure nut these springs must be able to slide against the underside of it. To facilitate this they do not bear directly against the underside of the nut,‭ ‬there are two shim washers interposed and these are lubricated prior to assembly so that while the springs bear against the lower shim, this can slide on the upper shim which can itself slide against the underside of the nut.

A bit torturous but this does work.‭

The pressure‭ ‬of the individual springs against the lower shim does tends to damage‭ i‬t so,‭ ‬while ideally both shims a should be replaced every‭ ‬time you remove the clutch,‭ ‬you can usually get away with just replacing one of them.

Then its‭ ‬back to the bike with the clutch assembled.

The three thrust pins have to be put into place,‭ ‬stuck there with a bit of grease and the body assembly can be slid onto the sleeve gear.

Ready to fit

Thrust Pins in Place Ready to Fit












Next the spring carrier is screwed into place in the front plate until it bottoms onto the thrust pins,‭ ‬you can feel this happen as the clutch body will move on the gear. This is to give the maximum free length space to the springs.

The pressure nut can now be screwed onto the sleeve gear,‭ ‬there is a special tool for this but by setting the carrier as suggested it will normally allow you to do this with finger pressure‭ ‬alone.

Once the nut is started then the AS61/2AS peg spanner can be used to tighten the nut.‭

Now the rubber bands can be cut away and it’s just a case of refit the primary chain, (Don’t forget to fit the locking plate!).‭

Primary Drive

Primary Drive Assembled












Then close up the chain-case and refit the engine shaft shock absorber along with the rear chain and sprocket. (The other end of the AS61/2AS fits the main-shaft nut.)

Once you’ve done all that, it’s time to set up the clutch.

First thing to do is to set up the spring pressure.

To do this,‭ ‬the‭ ‬first‭ ‬step is to totally disconnect the clutch cable‭ ‬so as to give maximum free play in the system.‭

You now have to screw the spring carrier out of the clutch front-plate to increase the spring pressure,‭ ‬to do this Velocette tool KA62/2‭ ‬is used,‭ a short length of ¼ inch steel rod with a flat on one end.

This inserts through the small hole in the gearbox sprocket and engages with notches in the spring carrier.

If the rear wheel is now turned forwards, then the spring carrier will be unscrewed from the front plate,‭ ‬moving it towards the pressure nut and so will increase spring pressure.

So you now turn the wheel forward a bit,‭ ‬then try the kickstart to test for the clutch slipping.‭

Repeat as necessary and spring pressure setting is correct when,‭ ‬as you press down on the kickstart against compression, the clutch will JUST‭ ‬begin to‭ ‬slip.‭

The clutch cable is now connected up‭ ‬again and all free play is taken out of it,‭ ‬this is setting up the unloaded‭ ‬position of the clutch lifting mechanism.

The spring carrier is now unscrewed further from the front plate until there is‭ ‬just over‭ ‬⅛ inch free play in the cable.

By doing this you have increased spring pressure to where the clutch is no longer slipping under load AND when the clutch lever is released there is no load on the clutch release‭ ‬bearing.

The important thing to realise here is that, on a Velo clutch, the free play in the system is set up on the spring carrier,‭ ‬AFTER the release mechanism and NOT on the cable,‭ ‬before that system.

It does mean however that if you do not get that initial JUST slipping point correctly one way then, because that pressure is a bit low, the clutch can slip under load and if the other,‭ ‬the clutch will not clear fully and will drag, equally if you make a real mess up you can wind up with a clutch that will both slip AND drag!.

Setting it up it this way means that there is no load on the lifting mechanism when it is at rest, if there is then the clutch release bearing will be under load and will wear. Since‭ ‬this is a special,‭ ‬unique to Velocette,‭ ‬it is‭ ‬ not cheap‭!! and as ‬there is only some‭ ‬5‭ ‬thou clearance between each plate at full lift there is little room for error‭!‬.

Since I have assembled the clutch using all new plates,‭ ‬these will bed in over the‭ ‬first few mile so I’ll have to go through this full set up drill again after a couple of hundred miles.

All that’s left to do is refit the cover over the gearbox sprocket and the dynamo belt covers, fire her up and go for a ride.

A Bit of a Hide

Now for something totally different !!.

I have a pair of dogs. Recently, while he was out running loose, the elder one managed to lose his collar.

Since the pup was also outgrowing her puppy collar I decided it was time she moved on to her adult collar and to make up a pair of matching collars for them.

So I went to the local suppliers, LePrevo Leather <>, and bought one 2 inch and two ¾ inch straps of a good leather along with four ¾ inch brass “D” rings, two 1 inch brass “O” rings, some copper rivets and two brass trigger hooks.

Once I had the materials next thing was to measure up. What I intended to make was a pair of martingale collars and for these I needed an accurate measure of the dogs neck size, his lordship measured up as being 16½ inches and her ladyship was 14 inches.

Allowing for the size of the “D” rings this meant that his collar leather needed to be a 14 incher while hers was to be 12 inches to allow her room to “grow into it”.

The  dogs  are a pair of standard poodles, poodles are a long-necked dog and as such I prefer them to wear a broad “fishtail” type collar so next step was to mark out the 2 inch strap for this and cut it to the required shape.


Cutting Template


A cutting template was made from some stiff card and transferred to the leather, which was then cut to shape using a Stanley knife fitted with a new blade.

Cut leather

Leather Main Body

Next a “D” ring was slipped over one of the “tails” and the “tail” doubled over it. This now needed to be fixed in place and there are two options here, you can stitch it in place or you can rivet it place, as these collars are for a larger dog and have ¾ inch wide “tails” stitching is a better option, for a small dog, and so a narrower collar, using ½ inch “D” rings then in preference I’d rivet it.

Leather is not as easy to sew as fabric is and it needs to have the needle holes pre-punched, you can’t just push a needle through two thicknesses of leather. What is needed here is a “pricking iron”, this looks a bit like a fork and is used to mark out and pre-punch the leather.

Once the thread holes have been pre-punched then it’s just a case of using an awl to open and line up the holes’ and then running the needle through.

When sewing leather it is normally done using two needles, one on each end of the thread, so you then run the other needle back through the other way and pull the thread tight and that’s the first stitch made.

Then you just run the awl through the next holes, follow it with the needles and so on till that stitch row is completed.

For security a second row of stitches was run across the “tail”, a bit nearer to the “D” ring.

"D" Ring

“D” Ring Stitched in Place

That meant the first “D” ring was now in place and all I had to do was stitch up the other three and I had the collar main bodies finished.

The bigger collar was 14 inches long and the smaller was 12 inches and the strap was 46 inches long so I had 20 inches of the strap “spare”

This “spare length” was cut down so as to give two straps, each ¾ inch wide by 20 inches long and one of these was slipped through both “D” rings on one collar.

As this loop was to be riveted closed,  a small hole was punched through the strap length, about a ½ inch from either end and another hole a bit over 1¼ inches from one end.

The strap was now slipped through one of the 1 inch “O” rings, the strap end doubled over the ring. A rivet was then put through all three holes and “set up” to secure it in place.

All that was now left to do was to make up a slider to go over the strap loop and secure it.

Completed Martingale

Completed Martingale

For this a short length of the “spare” leather was doubled over the loop  and the ends riveted in place so that it would slide stiffly over the loop and that was that collar completed,

Slider Fitted to Martingale

Slider Fitted to Martingale

all that was now left to do was to finish her ladyships collar as well.


Completed Pair of Martingales

To complete the “sets” I needed leaders to go with the collars.

For these I had the two strap lengths of ¾ inch wide leather.

I just slipped one end through the loop on one of the trigger hooks, doubled it back on itself and stitched the loop closed. As with the “D” rings I used two rows of stitching to secure it.

Trigger Hook

Trigger Hook stitched onto Leader

To form the handle I doubled the opposite 9 inches of the strap back on itself and secured it in place with another two rows of stitching and that was the leader complete.

Leader set

Set of Martingale and Leader

The idea of these “martingale” collars is that if the dog pulls hard when walking on lead then the collar is pulled a bit tighter round his neck, but, because from the way it is made it can only “pinch down” by about 1 inch on a 16 inch collar so it is uncomfortable to the dog rather than choking it.

It is not meant to be worn continually, it should be kept along with its leader as a set, the pair being put on when the dog is taken out and then removed, as a pair, when you get back home.

As long as the slider is run up to near the “D” rings the dog can be allowed to run loose “off lead” while wearing it since the slider holding the loop closed means the dog cannot get his foot caught in the open loop.


There are a number of motorcycling organisations who “Stand Up For Our Rights”.

These are normally national groups and as many of the threats they oppose are international they have joined together to form  an international group.

This “cover group” is FEMA, the Federation of European Motorcyclists Association.

This group has an open website that anyone can access at :-


Have a look, check it out every couple of months and keep yourself up to date on what’s happening on the political side of biking.

A Little Light

With the sidecar fitted and aligned, before I can take it out on the road it needs lights to be legal.

With it being a 1937 machine I just need to show “a white light to the front and a red light to the rear”, after all at that time gas lighting was still common, but as this outfit is to be used on modern roads I need to be a  bit more practical.

What I am fitting is a spotlight set up as a Daylight Riding Light, a white front running light, a red rear running light, a stop light and indicators.

Indicators are totally out of period but in modern traffic on a sidecar outfit they are “A DAMN Good Idea!”.

I had a pair of the Hella round indicator/running lights in stock so these became the basis of my lights.

As the wheel and mudguard (fender) are on the outside edge of the outfit the lights need to mount onto this but as the guard is semi-circular this gives a problem, the Hella units are intended to fit onto a flat, vertical surface and the guard has a compound curve, at the point where the lights need to mount there is a 45° slope to the vertical.

First thing was to make the mounts for the lights. These need to fit onto the guard and give a suitable surface to mount the lights.

As the lights are 75mm in diameter I took a 6 inch length of 75mm OD alloy tube with a 1.5mm wall thickness and cut it into two lengths on a 45°angle.

Mount tube

The sawcut alloy tube

These, when mounted onto the guard will fit onto the guard part way up it and give the necessary vertical surface, unfortunately though the plain cut end does not match the curves of the guard.

tube onguard

Showing mismatch between tube and mudguard, it only touches at the ends

However from fitting the guard onto the sidecar I had a short length of it spare

spare guard

“Spare” length of mudguard

so I took this, fixed some 80 grit abrasive sheet to it.

I next took a black marker, used it to “black up” the cut end of the  tube

tube end blacked

“Blacked-up” end of tube

and then started rubbing the mount on the abrasive sheet.

rubbing in

Rubbing in end of tube to match mudguard

This gave me “witness marks” showing where the guard was contacting the mount and so, where the mount needed trimming back.

witness marks

Rubbed end of tube showing “witness marks” where material still has to be removed

This was done using a Dremel tool and a sanding drum.

Repeated re-blacking, trials and trimming gave me a pair of mounts that were a reasonable fit onto the guard and which, given some rubber beading, would make a sound joint against it.

finished job

Tube matched to contour of mudguard

I now needed bases for the lights themselves. To make these I took a pair of 10mm thick alloy disks of about 85mm OD.

These were each chucked up in the lathe

raw disk

Raw disk in lathe chuck

and had a central 8mm hole drilled through.

After this they were removed from the chuck their place was taken by a short length of 32mm OD bar. This had its end faced flat and then had a central hole drilled into it. This was tapped to take an 8mm bolt.


Disk centre drilled 8mm

This gave me a mandrel to work the disk on and so one of the disks was bolted to it, this meant that I could now turn the disk about it’s centre and it was able to have the edge turned down to size.

on mandrel

Disk mounted on mandrel for turning

This disk was now skimmed down to 75mm diameter, the same as the OD of the tube.

Next step was to turn a 4mm deep spigot on the disk to make a tight fit in the tube.

I then reversed the disk on the mandrel and another 4mm deep spigot turned on the other side, this time sized to mount the Hella lens onto.

finished turned disk

Disk turned to size and lens fitted

Suitable mounting holes were drilled and tapped into the alloy to take the lens mounting screws.

All that was now needed was to supply light to the lenses and rather than use incandescent  bulbs I opted to use LED lights instead.

Going onto Ebay, I ordered up 4 amber, two red and two white LED marker lights. These mount with a 10mm stud on their backs.

As these are the equivalent of a 10 watt bulb the intention was to use two amber LEDs to supply each indicator,one white for the front running light and two reds for the stop light.

Going to the disks, I marked off the horizontal diameter through the lens mounting screws and drilled a pair of 10mm clearance holes above it. One one disk I then drilled a single 10mm clearance hole below the centre line and on the other a pair below the line.

drillee disk + LEDs

Front unit disk fitted with LEDs

Mounting two of the amber LED’s above the line gave me my indicators and the fitting the whites or reds below gave me my front running light and my stop light.

I needed a rear running light as well and so a similar but smaller unit was made up using a 50mm diameter LED rear marker light to supply the lens.

All that was left to do was give the mounts a lick of paint, mount them onto the guard via the central hole in the disks and to run in the wiring.

Finished job

The completed light unit in place


Lining it up

It’s now time to start fitting the sidecar. I’ve not yet refitted the tank after the dynamo belt drive conversion so now is an ideal time to do this.

First thing is to get the chassis connected up to the bikes frame.

The chassis was laid out alongside the bike and put up on blocks.

The front swan-neck was put in position on the bike and loosely clamped to the sidecar chassis, as was the rear ball joint fitting.

Fitting a sidecar has been described as a black art, well now starts the black magic!

First thing to set is the lead, the sidecar wheel has to be set a bit in front of the bikes rear one, how much depends on the type of sidecar, the intended use and the bike itself.

A bike with rear suspension needs more lead than a rigid bike; with a heavy sidecar you needs less lead, with a light sports chair you need more. This all boils down to the answer to “How Much?”  being “It Depends” but it is not critical to a fraction of an inch, I’m starting with 6 inches of lead on a light sports sidecar and this can be adjusted, if needs be, after road test. On my later outfit, which does have rear springing, I’m running with 10 inches lead on a similar sidecar.

So the chassis was slid around on the blocks till I had the appropriate lead and the fitting clamps tightened a bit.

setting up

Lead and level have been set, now it’s the toe-in to do. Notice the two “fine alignment tools” by the front wheel

The chassis was now able to have the support blocks removed and, as the bike was now standing on her wheels as well, it was time to level the chassis.

Working with a rigid bike here it was set level side to side, when the bike has rear suspension you’ll need to have the bike loaded when setting this.

While you want the sidecar level side to side, going fore and aft you want it nose high, even when loaded, so the chassis needs setting with the nose rail between a half inch and an inch higher than the axle rail. Getting these right can be a bit fiddly as with the chassis I am using, adjusting the side to side level will also alter the lead if your not on top of the job.

Now comes the most important of the settings, the toe-in.

With a sidecar outfit, the power is all on the bike side, the sidecar wheel is unpowered.

This means that when running straight the sidecar wheel always drags a bit and tends to pull the bike towards it. It is not a heavy pull but it does get tiring compensating for it all the time, so the trick is to set the sidecar wheel to steer a little the other way by pointing it in towards the bike, to “toe it in”.

Thing is “By how much?” and the answer is “It all depends!”. This is the big variable and depends on the bike, the roads you use, road camber will affect it, how fast you are going etc. so you have to compromise and then make adjustments to suit.

Experience leads me to use an initial setting of around 3/4 of an inch over the length of the bike so a straight edge (here a length of 4 x 2 timber) is laid against the bikes wheels, I have the same size tyres fitted fore and aft so it’s set up on blocks and adjusted so as to touch evenly at four points across the wheels.

Similarly another straight edge is laid against the sidecar wheel, touching evenly against it and the distance between the two straight edges measured, first just behind the rear wheel and then just in front of the front one, the difference between the measurements giving the amount of toe-in.

This is adjusted to suit at the chassis clamps, the sidecar wheel being lifted off the ground and replaced and the straight edges reset before a check measurement is taken so as to remove any tyre distortion from the figure.

Once I had the required toe-in the two main sidecar clamps could be tightened up but this is another setting that will probably be modified after road test.

This left me with the sidecar lean out to set. The bike needs to lean a little way out from the sidecar. With a left-hand sidecar in UK you want the bike to be a little past vertical to allow for the road camber, so you drop a plumb line from the handlebar end and set the lean to around a half inch.

setting lean-out

To set the lean-out drop a plumb line from the handlebar.

I’ve got a right-hand sidecar however and any lean I set will be added to by the camber, if I set too much lean I’m going to feel the bike leaning over, so initially I’m setting so as to have the bike vertical on a level surface so on the road the camber will be giving the lean out.

This is set using the rear upper brace, that one goes to just below the saddle.

setting lean-out

Lean -out is set using the rear brace that goes to under the seat

That’s the main adjustments made and locked by tightening the chassis clamps. Some people will tell you these three fittings are all you need but a fourth one is definitely desirable, without it you can feel the outfit flexing in corners, not only that but the toe-in varies as the outfit flexes, Not Ideal!.

This fitting goes across between the front of the sidecar chassis and a low point on the bike to triangulate the swan neck. Normally you would take it off the front engine plates but a Panther does not have these.

However P&M supplied a mounting point on the engine right beside where the front engine supports are so its taken to there. All you do is adjust the fitting so that the clevis bolts slide easily into place and then lock it up in that position.

adding the body

The lower front brace goes between the front of the chassis and the bike.
Once it is in place then the body can be fitted.

With the basic settings made it now requires a road test to determine what adjustments need to be made to these.

What to expect is that as you pull away there will be a small degree of low speed steering wobble that disappears as soon as you are moving. This is normal and you soon do not even notice it, you don’t after all on your car and it does the same. You can reduce this with a steering damper, but too heavy a damper makes for heavy steering, careful attention to the setting up will minimise it, a better remedy.

Now try some slow turns, towards and away from the sidecar, ideally the effort should be about the same but if turning towards the chair is noticeably heavy then you need to reduce the lead to stop the wheel crabbing. But too little lead affects stability and makes the sidecar wheel more prone to lifting.

Does the outfit run straight under steady power? The ideal is to be able to hold it steady with one finger on the bars, does it pull to one side or the other? This is a pointer to the toe-in setting, pulling all the time towards the sidecar — increase the toe-in, pulling away from it — decrease the toe-in.

Open the gas and as you speed up you should pull a little round towards the sidecar; now shut the gas,as the bike slows on engine braking you should feel the sidecar pull round towards the bike.

If at steady speed you can feel it is pulling only slightly but enough to need constant input to stay straight then a SMALL adjustment to the lean-out can help but don’t overdo it, look on this as a final fine trim to getting the toe-in right.

So far all your tests should have been below 30mph, now it’s time to speed up a bit.

Take it gently and try at higher speeds, it may need a bit more fine tuning to get the outfit handling “Just So” but it’s well worth the effort as with a well set up outfit out on the open road it steers largely on the throttle, needing very little input to the bars.

Complete outfit

Final Result, ready for the road

Timing It.

Having removed the magneto and with replacing the drive dog on it with the POC’s uprated version I needed to retime the ignition.

On a Panther there are no external timing marks and the ignition point is normally quoted as with the magneto set on full advance at a set distance before TDC,‭ ‬measured with a rod down the spark plug hole in the head.

An option is to set it to TDC with the magneto on full retard,‭ ‬determined the same way.‭ ‬This sounds easy but it is in fact not so simple or accurate to determine because there is an appreciable amount of crankshaft rotation at TDC with minimal piston motion and it is easy to be a fair bit out.

I decided to make up a special tool for this.

The obvious way is just to take an old plug,‭ ‬smash out the ceramic and use a rod going down through it.

Downside with this is that the rod is going into the cylinder at an angle so that any distance measured on it will not be an accurate measure of piston movement,‭ ‬not only that but because it is at an angle it can jam the piston rather than being pushed up by it and cause damage.

I’ve a spare cylinder head and using this I found that not only could an old spoke go down the plug hole vertically when angled across it but there was a flat horizontal face on the outside of the head at the plug hole to set the tool on and also act as an index point.

Spare head

Head showing flat area at plug hole

So I took a piece of‭ ‬2.0mm flat aluminium sheet scrap and cut it to fit across this flat area.

I then drilled a‭ ‬5/16inch‭ (‬8mm for the metrically inclined‭) ‬hole in the plate,‭ ‬centred on the plug hole and filed the bottom edge of the plate below that to a chisel edge.

Alloy plate

Alloy plate

As I wanted to keep the spoke vertical I scribed a line up through the hole centre and using the corner of a hand file I cut a‭ “‬V‭” ‬groove on it.

The spoke will be pulled into this groove and so locked at‭ ‬90°‭ ‬to the edge of the plate.

Next I took a length of studding and then drilled across it’s diameter close to the end,‭ ‬the drilling being just clearance for a spoke and an inch length cut off the studding.

Cross drilling studding

Component parts of tool

Component parts of tool

The spoke was then put through the hole,‭ ‬the cut studding put through the plate so that the chisel edge was against the spoke and a nut and washer fitted so that while the spoke was held against the plate it could still be pushed up and down through the bolt.

Assembled tool

Assembled tool

The plate was then put in place on the cylinder head with the spoke going down the plughole and the bottom edge of the plate was held firmly down onto the flat face above the plug hole.

The motor was then gently turned over and as the piston rose up the bore it pushed the spoke up through the bolt.

Tool in use

Tool in use

Since the bolt had been tightened enough to hold the spoke but not enough lock it in position,‭ ‬as the‭  ‬piston went across TDC and back down the bore on the other side,‭ ‬the spoke was left at the TDC position.

The device was removed from the head and a mark was put on the spoke at the chisel edge.

Reference was made to the bikes manual in the POC websites‭ “‬Library‭” ‬to find the correct advance distance for my motor,‭ ‬45°‭ ‬or‭ ‬19/32‭”‬,‭ ‬and another mark made on the spoke at that distance above the TDC mark.

‭(‬If you are making up one of these be careful to check what the correct figure is for your bike,‭ ‬official figure varies by some‭ ‬10°‭ ‬according to the year of the bike.‭)

This mark was aligned against the chisel edge on the plate and the nut tightened down to lock the spoke in place.

The motor was now brought to TDC on the compression stroke and then turned backwards to take the piston back down the bore to before the ignition point,‭ ‬the new tool put in place with the spoke end down through the plug hole and the motor gently turned forwards until the piston was felt to touch against the end of the spoke.

The motor was now at the correct spot to set the magneto timing at full advance so the Magneto could now be set in place and its timing set.

This is a bit more sophisticated than the old idea of using a‭ “‬pencil down the plug-hole‭” ‬but it’s easier to use when set up,‭ ‬it has a clearer index point AND there’s no chance of losing it down the plug-hole.

This new tool is small enough to keep in the tool-set carried on the bike itself, I’ve got an old tobacco‭ tin with the tappet spanners, push-rod tube spanner, mag spanners, a set of feelers, a packet of cigarette papers and now this tool kept in the toolbox, ‬after all,‭ ‬if you have it with you then you won’t need it but if you haven’t got it you will‭!