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Saturday, 29 October 2011

Royal Enfield Meteor Minor Restoration -Making Plans

Royal Enfield Meteor Minor Restoration
A pal of mine served 25 years with the Royal Engineers. He is an ex warrant officer, and still chooses to sport the regulation (yet ridiculous) "third stripe" army tash which he wears with immense pride despite the constant ridicule from myself and other peers. As with all ex servicemen, he is forever banging on about old army war stories and sayings.  One of the said adages was "the 7 P's".  Not Pea's of the frozen or garden variety but these P's:-

I suppose the word PISS can help you to remember it and it is obviously  something that has stayed with a grunt like myself. But when it comes to the overhaul of a motorcycle like a Royal Enfield Meteor Minor I intend to approach it with somewhat more panache:-
"I`m out there running the road, long before I dance under those lights." Muhammad Ali

Anyway fellow meteorites, I`m not the worlds greatest runner but every journey begins with a single step. So i begin formulating a plan as to how I`m going to tackle this bike. Read on…..

What Exactly Do I Have In my shed?

On the 20th September 2011, myself and my dad in law bundled this old heap out of the back of his car,
re-affixed the rusty wheels and limped it into the lovely new shed courtesy of mrs Meteor.
Armed with her snazzy new camera, I set about taking snaps of every single component, nut and bolt that would combine to form the foundation of my glorious meteor-to-be. I found just taking the pics a good exercise in getting familiar with the bike (lets not forget, when it comes to bikes, my head is emptier than hermits address book).
It wasn`t long before I came across a small plate fitted to the frame of the bike which was covered in old paint, and it became apparent that this would be the bikes identification plate. After discovering the engine serial number etched into the engine case, it occurred to me that there was now a possibility of tracing back some part of this motorcycle`s legacy, and it would no longer just be a bike from the barn of the mysterious Mr Taylor.

I began to feel like Tony Robinson out of channel 4`s pretty boring Time Team ( afterall, it wouldn`t be the first time that somebody has referred to me as Baldrick out of Blackadder). I want to know things such as:
1) the bikes exact age
2) where was it made
3)colour of the frame and tank
4) is the engine original to the frame

That night i log on and bring up the website of The Royal Enfield owners club.

The owners club offers a variety of useful services.  The blurb on the home page reads:-

"The REOC exists as a forum for the interchange of ideas and information on the maintenance, restoration and use of Royal Enfield motorcycles and machines."

Its a decent site but some parts are off limits to non-members. One of the downsides is that you can`t simply pay to sign up on line and access all the geeky stuff straight away. For example if you want to run a history check on your motorcycle you need to take photos of the bike on both sides as well as pictures and pencil rubbings of both the frame and engine numbers.
Problem: Although the engine number is obvious, The ident etched into the forward upright of the frame (rear of headlamp) is caked in paint and the etched numbers are illegible. I have a rummage through the various chemicals in my shed and find some old paint stripper i used for tarting up a staircase once upon a time. The "Nitromors" works like a charm although the etched numbers are difficult to decipher.  I struggled to decide whether the first character is just a weird looking 6, or a 67 very close to one another (when i show the pics to my mates in work, they assure me that mrs meteor has "bought you a nicked bike for your birthday"). Figuring that it will be up to the guy at REOC to decide, i set to work with a 2hb pencil and some paper.

The ident check will be free of charge to members, but first of all you need to join, afterwhich you send the required info and rubbings to their volunteer dating officer and he gives you all the good info. So i blow the dust off my almost virgin chequebook and head down the local spar for a stamp. It seems that the old meteor in the shed will have to stay annonymous for a few more days.

Meanwhile, with the history of the bike in hand,  i decide to look into getting some info on how this bike is screwed together. Being a novice motorcycle nerd, i struggle to think where to look first,- so as with everything else i ever search for these days, i start on ebay. Lady luck seems to be smiling on me and sure enough somebody has a single 1958-9 Meteor minor parts manual for sale and another is flogging a cd with a PDF copy of the workshop manual. i snap them up like a tramp with a bag of chips, and two days later they hit the doorstep of chez meteor.

The parts manual is pretty much what it says on the tin and is a 50 page booklet full of all the exploded drawings and original part numbers of each item. I scan them all into the hard drive of my PC so i can print off "dirty" copies for later.  Not that sort of dirty- me and my meteor are just getting to know each other.

The workshop manual however looks to be a pretty decent bit of kit and something that i`m sure that i will be referencing regularly during the make-over of the bike.  It is full of detailed write ups on everything from stripping the gearbox to grinding valve seats.

After thumbing through the books, i find myself  in a particularly geeky mood and purchase myself a Meteor metal sign, which i can mount on over the door of my shed. - looks ace.

About a week or so went by without a great deal of progress on project meteor.  A heavily pregnant Mrs M has decided to start “nesting” and is demanding that I get our house sorted ready for the arrival of our new meteorite.  She hands over her list of demands.  A list of chores longer than a 7yr olds xmas present list,  which will see me plastering, wallpapering, painting, landscape gardening, and kitchen fitting  until about xmas time.

Being the dutiful husband and father-to-be (and being too gutless to stand up to the missus), I begin to make a start on her ransom list and set to work, all the while mindful that winter is beginning to tighten its icy grip around me.  I want to begin stripping this bike while I can still feel my fingers.

On Wednesday, i got fed up of sugar soaping wallpaper paste from my nursery walls. I`d been pondering where to start on the bike, but am so inexperienced i just haven`t got a clue. Throwing down my bucket and sponge, I defiantly head down to my local classic bike shop for some much needed expert bike chat.

LLandow Classics
The two gents down at llandow classics have forgotten more about motorcycles than i will ever know. Not only are they an award winning Royal Enfield dealer, but they are true enthusiasts who have managed to merge their obssession and their workplace. Chris spent about an hour talking to me about my bike and what i hoped to achieve. If you are the sort of guy who wants to restore your bike to the exact same spec as it rolled off the production line, they will help you.  However, if you are mindful of your budget and want to achieve a similar look by utilising cheaper indian enfield parts, they will also point you in the right direction of where this may be applicable.
They also have a workshop on site where they can assist your restoration by offering things such as wheel building and servicing etc.

I`ve heard various ideas about the method and order of which to overhaul this motorcycle, such as people telling me to get the engine ticking over before i start.  After i discussed it with the guys at llandow, and the fact that the bike has been left standing for so long, i have decided that i`m just going to take one chunk a time until everything on the bike has been stripped, cleaned, restored and rebuilt.

You can`t eat a whole cow in one sitting and so my next blog will begin with the fuel tank. The 'crowning glory'.

So meteorites, Its time to stop talking and start doing, so if i haven`t bored you to death with all this waffle, don`t forget to click the subscribe bit at the bottom of the page to keep an eye on any new blogs coming out. i do like it when that view counter stars rising. i`m on 124 views of the first one, but i think 25 or so is me !


  1. You have a fine sense of humor. Hang on to that spirit. You are going to need it! I think your wife has done a fine thing; very clever too, giving you a motorcycle you may not be able to ride until after the new baby is done with college (and you are done paying for college). Until then, you're too important to risk running around on two wheels. Very clever indeed!

  2. That tank should buff right out...then you're halfway there!

  3. Wow! You have a big project ahead of you---but you have the right mind-set and spirit for the job! I bought a 750 in boxes years ago and eventually got it all together with a lot of advice. You'll learn so much about your bike,
    it will become one of the family! Good luck to you!