On the stand with wheels removed

It was always the plan to have the wheels rebuilt with stainless rims and spokes. The wheels on the bike were badly rusted under what was left of the chrome. I don’t have a full table bike lift, but do have a small centre lift. The bike looks quite sorry for itself with the wheels removed but it means I can get them rebuilt and the forks serviced at the same time…or at least that was the plan.

Once off the bike, I took the wheels to Johnny at Value Tread in Hexham; he has no website but does have a Facebook page, which the link will take you to. He carefully removed the tyres and tubes, which I took home to check and clean.

The tyres fitted were both Dunlop Arrowmax Streetsmart items…not quite the old classic look, but a modern tyre designed for use on classic bikes. Chances are I will use the Avon, UK made, classic range for my slower G3LS when I have its wheels rebuilt in 2022.

Repairing the edge

On the back was a 4.00-18 M/C 64H and on the front a 100/90-18 M/C 56V; the ‘M/C’ probably, just taking a wild guess, stands for ‘Motorcycle’. The tubes were both Michelin Airstop 18MG. There was a little bit of superficial damage to the outer rubber, below the rim on the rear tyre. I repaired this using heavy duty paper clips and Evostik; it didn’t affect the integrity or safety of the tyre in any way.

I took the wheels to the rebuilder I use near Chester-le-Street and expected a call to let me know they were almost ready, as he said he would let me watch him do the work on one of the rims. Instead I got a phone call saying ‘we’ve got a problem…these rims don’t seem right’. The wheels had been rebuilt before and someone had put a WM-2 width rim on the BACK and a WM-3 rim on the FRONT!! That must have made riding the bike a bizarre experience, especially two up which the seller did most of the time. Combine that with the lack of oil in the front forks and I wonder if my seller just didn’t like riding the bike? If anything, it should be the WM-2 on the front and the WM-3 on the back.

Rebuilt and ready for tyres

I couldn’t find any information in the AJS and Matchless archives about the correct wheel sizes; it may be there but it eluded me at the time. This bike is pretty much a Norton with a Matchless 650 twin engine in it, so I referred to the Norton manual for the bikes that used the same frame, wheels, gearbox etc. but a Norton engine and 18 inch rims…both rims should be WM-3, so they were what the rebuilder fitted.

The rims and spokes came from Devon Rim and the rims are their top Rolltru offering…nice and shiny 😉

Watching a master at work rebuilding wheels and aligning the rim with the hub correctly is almost hypnotic; he made it look very easy. It’s not something I plan to learn to do, as it’s a critical job that needs to be done correctly.

Wheels ready to go back on

Once the wheels were back, I took them back to Value Tread and Johnny refitted the tubes and tyres before balancing both wheels. I decided to go with sticky weights as the bobbins that fix around the spokes looked more unsightly in my opinion. Using solder, which I had taken with me, would have looked a mess too. The reason for the felt tip pen arrows on the hum covers, should be obvious.