header image
Homepage. This page: A handy book describing workshop techniques applicable to vintage motorcycles and other vehicles.

The Vintage Motorcyclists' Workshop.


ISBN 978 0 85429 472 5
Re-published 2012. (Hardback, 247 pages).
Review date February 2013.
Vintage motorcycle book

UK RRP 25.

Buy this Book:
Although this site is principally focused on four-wheeled vehicles rather than motorcycles, there are many car enthusiasts with an interest in matters motorcycling, and/or restoration techniques, so a book such as this - The Vintage Motorcyclists' Workshop - contains much that will relate to their interests. It is in fact a re-issue of a book that first saw light of day in the 1980s, and has become something of an essential reference work to motorcycle restorers keen to learn the "old school" methods involved with fixing-up older machines. The articles were first featured as a series in the Vintage Motor Cycle Club's own magazine, before being compiled into a reference book in 1986 and in subsequent re-prints.
The author, Frank Farrington, who wrote under the pseudonym of Radco, was a dyed-in-the-wool motorcycle enthusiast who dipped his toe into the world of elderly motorcycles with the purchase of a 1916 Radco, which would be the first of many machines that passed through his hands.
The book, published by Haynes, is similar in look and feel to their mainstream workshop manuals, with diagrams, photographs, and a sprinkling of period advertisements all reproduced in black and white.
The topics are grouped into logical chapters, beginning with a subject that will definitely be of use to car and motorcycle fans alike, that of screw threads. The author takes the reader through a guided tour of all the thread types that he or she is likely to encounter, beginning with BSC (British Standard Cycle) threads, followed by BSW (British Standard Whitworth), BSF (British Standard Fine), BA (British Association), UNF, UNC, accompanied by notes on different versions of the metric standard. Advice on using taps and dies, plus dealing with broken studs and taps, is also included. Again of use to car and 'bike owners alike is a discussion of the different metal types used by different fasteners, and an in-depth look at the BS970 steel specifications in use (for examples EN1A, EN8 and EN57 to name just three). Heat treatments and other related processes, plus the correct use of micrometers, are also covered in this chapter. For the information in this chapter alone the book is worthy of consideration.
If you've ever wondered how to go about rebuilding a spoked wheel in the home workshop, or pondered over how to create your own inverted brake or clutch levers, then chapter two will be of use. Also looked at are fork arrangements typical of those found on vintage and veteran motorcycles. Chapter three (page 47 to 81) dives into the mysteries of the engine, beginning with procedures and the knowledge required to strip and overhaul the top end. Countless tables, diagrams, photographs and cutaway drawings support the text as this topic unfolds. In-depth analysis of the re-conditioning that might be required to the engine's bottom half then follows, with information that could prove essential to anyone struggling to better understand their own bike's inner workings.
The subject of transmission is dealt with in chapter 5, with both belt and chain drive arrangements being covered as necessary. There are also some great photographs, contemporary and from more recent times, to be found here. Carburation is the next subject to come under the microscope, with descriptions of units from the likes of SU, Bowden, Amal, B&B, Schebler and Binks to name a selection being described, in addition to more general advice on carb overhaul and repair.
Electrical systems, and the tricky subject of paintwork then follow, again both subjects that will be familiar to car and motorcycle owner alike. Advice on panel preparation, the choice of appropriate brushes, and the application of lining - or pinstriping - is given, useful information to assist with re-lining a frame, or a petrol tank. Although there have probably been developments in paint processes that may not be covered in this book, which after all first came out in 1986, the methods that are described will be relevant to anyone wishing to stick with more traditional methods during the course of a rebuild. Chapter 9 looks at home electroplating techniques, and is proceeded with a series of general tips that could also be useful to restorers of old bicycles. The process of re-furbishing leather saddles, and choosing replacement leather for same, will no doubt be of interest.
The contents of this book reminds me of the type of articles to be found in books published in the 1930s, or in DIY hands-on magazines of that era. To have many techniques that are all-but forgotten in mainstream motorcycle maintenance, compiled into one reference work such as this, should continue to see it being a popular choice for restorers for many years to come.
Back to top
Return to the Book Reviews main page

Custom Search
www.oldclassiccar.co.uk (C) R. Jones. Content not to be reproduced elsewhere.
Website by ableweb.
Privacy Policy, Cookies & Disclaimers