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Friday, 25 November 2011

Royal Enfield Meteor Minor Restoration - Bulk Strip

BLOG 3 of 3. (blog 1 at bottom  of this page or click archive above - October)


An Acknowledgement
As the reader counter passes 800 spanning the globe, I`d just like to say how pleased I am that people are taking an interest in this blog, -I must be doing something right, I hope you all continue to enjoy it.
To give credit where credit is due much of this readership has been thanks to the fab review of this blog from Enfield royalty and blogging behemoth David Blasco of Definitely worth taking a look if you are interested in anything Royal Enfield, or would just like a lesson in how to look debonair on a classic motorcycle. (must see photo of David on his Enfield sporting cravat , Mrs M reckons he is the Hugh Hefner of the classic bike world!)

Story Since last Blog
I`d been gazing out at my garden shed from the confines of our new nursery for a couple of minutes of almost every night last week. On more than one freezing cold evening, I even connected up the extension lead to my outside power and reeled it out to "Chez Meteor" to spark the old lead lamp into life.
Not that I had any intentions of setting to work you must understand. I was merely there to stand and stare, wallowing in my own self pity. You see meteorites, I`d been doing some long days at the aircraft engine factory where I work, and my evenings had been filled with the stink of wet gloss paint in the new nursery and trudging around the sodden Welsh countryside in the dark with my trusty hounds Neville and Dolly.

Sensing my frustration with a fatherly intuition nothing short of a Jedi, it was up to Old Man Meteor (my dad) to take the bull by the horns, step in, and demand that mrs M give me a Saturday afternoon DIY ammnesty so that we could spend some quality father-son time working on the bike.
Not even the pregnant, nesting, mrs M could deny us of that, especially when he assured her :-
"these old bikes are so basic.......we can strip the whole bloody thing in about an hour using only two spanners. It`ll be a Piece of Piss!"

  • famous last words I thought. But nevertheless, the missus rubber stamped the afternoon off, and I looked forward to finally getting something done on the Bike. Read on………….
I worked Saturday morning and arrived home just before noon. Old Man Meteor wasn`t even meant to be arriving till 1-ish, but when I arrived, he was already in the shed spraying every nut and bolt on the bike with wd40 to act as a releasing fluid.
I should probably mention that my dads work ethic is slightly akin to that of the Tazmanian Devil cartoon character. To be fair , he is an excellent engineer, but sometimes, when you are trying get him to teach you how to do a job, you firstly have to reign him in as he only seems to work at one speed -flat out. 
I gave him the usual talk of how we need to just take our time with this strip so that we wouldn`t do any damage by rushing. As usual with all DIY we do together, he would agree and then begin tearing into the bike like a tornado in a trailer park.
Knowing that i wouldn`t have time to stop and say "i`ll just take a photo for the blog..."  i just decided that it was best to just get stuck in with him. He probably hadn`t had his regimented 12 o clock lunch yet, and would be extra keen to get cracking so he could finish for a late lunch.  I kept my work overalls on and went straight out to the shed to begin.

Stripping A Royal Enfield Meteor Minor
Fuel Tank
In my  last blog i promised i would make some headway on the tank.  I took the tank off a few weeks ago, (only a couple of bolts)  and have made a start. However, because there is so much to do to it, which all requires a good wedge of cash, i am only about halfway through. Part 1 to be posted shortly.

Engine removal
Old man meteor had brought over his trolley jack and a couple of axle stands which we positioned under the engine. We took just enough weight to allow the mounting bolts to be removed so we could take it off the frame. This worked really well, and with aid of the formentioned wd40, each bolt that connected the engine to the frame came out without a hitch.

With the 500 twin wobbling on top of the jack, me and the old man gripped a side each and managed to somehow man handle the old lump into the corner of the shed. bloody hell it was heavy! i thought that id be spending the rest of the evening walking about like the hunchback of notre damn.

 Frame Disassembly
The frame was obviously much lighter now and was easier to move around in the space of my shed. I`m not going to tell you about every nut and bolt in the strip of the frame, as it was all pretty straight forward. You can see below the items which i pulled apart:


Wheel Strip 
Next up was to get the tyres off the wheels. The tyres will probably go straight in the bin as they appear to be brittle from standing in water for some length of time. Besides one of my neighbours who claims to know a bit about bikes reckons that they are so square that they may have fitted  a bike with a sidecar. I think he`s probably right as one of the readers of this blog also emailed me to say that i had side car forks fitted to my motorcycle.

There is definately an art to getting the tyres and inner tubes off the wheel rims and i am glad the old man was there to guide me through it.
  1. Turn dust cap upside down and use it as tool to operate inner tube valve to deflate
  2. Wedge large flat edge screwdriver between the rim and tyre and move around the rim levering the screwdriver downward to break the bead on the tyre. repeat at 3 inch intervals all around the rim.
  3. When the bead is broken all around on both sides of the wheel, use some tyre levers, (or in my case the same big screwdriver as all my decent tools are in work) to lever one side of the tyre up over the rim. Begin just to the left of the valve
  4. Again, repeat at 3 inch intervals all around the rim, using a second screwdriver to hold the previous section in position and stop it slipping back behind the rim of the wheel.  work the tyre off the rim all the way around untill you reach the valve.
  5. Reach up inside and pull a section of the innertube out. again work around the rim in sections until you reach the valve and the whole thing can be removed from the tyre.
  6. Once the inner tube is out, push your screwdriver under the tyre again from the same side, but this time reach across the rim and nudge the opposite tyre wall up over the other rim. this should be much easier than the first side now.
  7. with your screwdriver pushed under both walls of the tyre. pull up with the handle and simultaneously use a plastic mallet to beat the remainder of the tyre from the wheel.  


PROBLEM: The Forks

Everything was all coming apart a little to smoothly. That was until we got to the forks. The chromed tubes were heavily coroded and i was worried that they would be seized inside the fork / headlamp casing. I had a quick glance at the exploded diagram in the meteor minor parts book to have a look what i was dealing with.
I decided the best course of action would be to simply remove every bolt on the assembly and attempt to withdraw the tubes.

This was easier said than done as they were stuck fast inside the fork housing.
I used a piece of wood as a drift, and began beating downward on the crown of the steering stem in the hope that it would force the stem and tubes away from the headlamp casing in one foul swoop.
To some extent this crude method began to work. The two tubes and steering stem did begin to come away and we exposed the ball bearings which were bagged up and stored away for another day.

However, as the crown had to move downward over the heavily corroded tubes, it began to seize once more.  The repeated blows began to take there toll and the tin wear which you see below the tubes looked like it had just done 15 rounds with mike tyson. I began to panic, and decided the best course of action would be to call it a day on the strip. i doused them in wd40  and decided to spray them every night for the next 5 nights. You can`t win them all. Id have have another crack this coming weekend. .

Besides, If all else fails i will have to take emergency action and call in my buddy Nitro Neil from the engine shop where i work. He is Merthyr Tydfil`s finest super moto pit mechanic in his spare time, and master tactician when it comes to rectifying other peoples cock ups on aero engines in work.
It wouldn`t be the first time he has bailed me out!

Heavily corroded and now slightly battered tin ware

Whitworth and BSF tools donated by a guy who died in my friend Rossy Wossy`s street. Put to good use once again!
Chez Meteor full of stripped down meteor bits.

Other News - Exhaust Purchased

The other day, a good mate of mine rang me up and told me about an exhaust which he had seen on ebay.   The exhaust is in excellent condition and came from a meteor minor sport. But, I must say, that the silencer is  not the classic "cigar" shape which i have seen on many meteor minors, but had a slightly more flared shape.

For a split second i did think twice about buying it. I considered that maybe  such a visually important part of the motorcycle would  have to be the exact standard part and that there would be enfield purists scouring south wales looking to burn me and my bike at the stake. But then i remembered a conversation i had with the gents down at LLandow classics when they told me how many people give up on getting bikes on the road because they crack up when they cant get parts of the original spec.

They advised me that Meteor minors were thin on the ground in the 50s and 60s compared to the more prolific triumph bikes, and some meteor parts would be as scarce as rocking horse shit these days. Particularly stuff like mudguards and tool boxes.

I get myself on ebay and snap it up like a fat kid with some candy floss.

New exhaust for £30

I suppose thats about it for this time meteorites. As i stated earlier, The fuel tank is well underway and  the investigation into my dodgey frame number is also being carried out. So If your interested and want to keep up with any developments,  don`t forget to follow this blog (its easy and free) by clicking the link at the bottom of the page

Meteor Man



  1. Well done and thank you for the tip of the hat! I am no mechanic, but it sounds as though you are getting along well.

  2. Enjoyed the read! Being American, I also enjoy your similes, many of which were unfamiliar to me, but very clear at the same time. So I was surprised to find "tornado in a trailer park" among you descriptive language... That has to be an Americanism!

    Looking forward to more.

  3. Hello , nice blog and interresting project . I like to read more.
    By the way your Meteor is sporting a side car fork, am i right.
    I am doling myself a restoration on an Enfield twin .

    best regards Michael from Hamburg/Germany