Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Steven Phillips 3T / T100 Conversion

Steve sent me one of those emails recently that I love getting. First telling me how fantastic this blog of mine is, but better yet sending me some pictures of the cool bikes he's been collecting. This green T-Bird was especially neat with the early MCM high pipes for rigid frames.

This rigid T100C project with square generator top end isn't too shabby either,

but this sweet little 3T / T100 conversion really caught my interest. There was a totally complete and original rigid frame 3T on ebay a few years back that was beautifully done up with Flanders & MCM goodies with sport fenders and all the factory body parts that are impossible to find that I had thought long and hard about bidding on. It looked like the bike had not been touched since the 1950's. Well I didn't bid or save the pictures of it unfortunately. After seeing Steve's bike I know what could have been done. David Edwards classic 3T / 500 period bob can be found on this blog with a search to see another example. Here is the story of one mans path to a well excecuted special.

"Hey Paul,

Well, truth be told i never did my homework prior to chasing/buying the 3T.
my incorrect asssumption was that it was the same rigid frame as the 5T/T100 etc, it isnt.
But 'it/she' was such a cute bike when i went to see her, all original .... and running! and my first Triumph was a 1958 basket case Twenty-one .... that i went ahead and bought her.
She ran okay, needed a bit of carb fettling and tappet adjustment but i got her through the Govt. inspection and used her for bimbling around when i was back in England. Luckily for me, by this time i'd been introduced, through a mutual friend, to Ian. Triumph fanatic and all round number one engineer/turner/fitter/welder/restorer ..... when i first met him he had the finest collection of rigid 500cc Triumphs i had and have ever laid eyes on, including a genuine 49' GP 500, a 53' complete with race kit, numerous twin carb versions ........ 22 bikes in all and a garage full of spares. As you may have gathered i spend most of my time in australia and get back to the uk inbetween work contracts, sadly, whilst i away, Ian's partner of 26years walked out on him and in a state of panic over not wanting to lose his house (his grandfather built for him) he panicked and sold everything!! Needless to say he now regrets his decision.
Anyway, whilst talking to him i mentioned the 3T and admitted my initial error, he just laughed and advised that he'd converted one decades before for a friend. The shopping list was pretty short.
TR5 Trophy engine/gearbox plates ... not too bad, he could get his hands on some to use as a template.
A 5T/T100/6T rigid gearbox ... luckily i had one from my other rigid project.
An engine ... mmmmm ... this had me scratching my head, i didnt want to rob too much from my other project.
And inner and outer chaincases from a rigid TR5 Trophy ... Eek!! Now i dont know about the States but these are like hens teeth over here, the far side of rare and are usually snapped up at a premium price.
Anyway, whilst trying to source parts I started messing about with the bike. Changed the handlebars first and ran her like that.
I had to strip the front end to grease the headstock bearings so whilst she was stripped down I took the Superior fork shrouds/headlamp mount off the 6T and fitted it to the 3T (stage 1 photo), at the same time i swapped out the silencers to the MCM? cocktail shakers.
Definite improvement in the looks department, IMHO!! lol
We cant run without fenders over in the UK so i just carried on stripping her, asked around and a friend of a friend who rebuilds/restores Vincents (owns about 9) pitched in with some alu fenders that he wasnt using. Again, they kinda fitted with the look i had in mind. (stage 2 photo).
Meanwhile i was getting in touch with my old brit bike mates and trying to hunt down an engine, Ian was busy on the engine plates and trying to source the elusive chain cases. I came up trumps first with a 5T engine that luckily had been fitted with a T100 alloy top end (photo attached).

Whilst putting word around back in manchester, uk, that i was after an engine or any spares one of my old mates got in touch to say that he'd got wind of a basement find, a late 50's swinging arm Thunderbird and two spare engines!!
It seems an old guy had passed away and whilst the family was clearing the house they found Dad's old Triumph in the cellar where it had languished for decades ... anyway, my friend Colin got back to me to say that funnily enough another friend of ours had beaten us to the Triumphs and had got the lot for just a thousand pounds .... Now I hadnt seen John for .... 10 - 12 years, I'd dropped out of the bike scene after a messy-ish divorce and the selling of my bikes .... anyway, i tracked John down, helped him sort out exactly what he had, 2 650 engiines and a 500 with an alloy top end!!
Yup, i bought the 500 for two hundred quid ... a fair price i thought, but i would have paid that for the alloy top end alone.
It was an early crank, no big end shell, low comp pistons but standard bores and look how clean the head is, thats as i lifted it off the ... jugs/barrels.
I think the engine had been put together with the view of transplanting into the chassis but never actually done, it certainly wasnt run.

Luckily, Ian still had some spares lying around at his place, so he supplied a replacement crank, rods etc The crank, rods and low comp pistons out of the engine went in trade, to Alan, ( he wanted them for a pre-war speed twin project, also has a pre-war T100 with bronze head) for various bits and pieces.
Ian put the engine back together, he has an excellent workshop and sadly my time in the uk is limited these days.
Nothing too fancy in the engine, T110 cams and 8.5/1 comp ratio pistons. Reused the mag from the 3T as it was a good spark.
Ian normally replaces worn engine/frame nuts and bolts in stainless, its easier for him to turn down items on the lathe than shop around for stuff.
Ian also tracked down, eventually, NOS TR5 Trophy chain cases ..... ouch!!! I had to pay 500 pounds for the privilege!!
Inside is a single chain lightweight anodised clutch supplied by LP Williams in the UK.
I took the standard gearbox from another project.

Ian put the exhaust system together from bits he had lying around .... still unsure as to what i want, fancied high level one each side, just missed a set on ebay sadly ..... then again, a Trophy setup siamese high level above the chaincase would look pretty neat .... lol .... undecided ......."

Thanks Steve!

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