The Pre-1941 Triumph Motor Cycle Pages

From Peter Cornelius - Triumph Specialist for the VMCC - of Britain.

Answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions.

Select or scroll down for the topics below -

Q. Why was there no direct Engine to Frame number relationship?
Do the numbers raise together? If you had a chassis that was 1000 greater than mine should the engine also be 1000 greater?
Is there a direct correlation?

No way! (In post war years under Triumph Engineering Ltd. engine and frame had matching numbers, but not earlier.) Frames, engines and gearboxes (and other items) were made in different parts of the Works. In the case of engines and gearboxes these went through the machine shops (workshops) and then to separate shops for assembly. Gearboxes and frames were number stamped. Engines and gearboxes were transferred to the central stores, where doubtless they were stacked on shelves. The frames were sent to the enamelling shops for coslettising treatment and enamelling, prior to baking. Following that they were also transferred to the central stores. Most probably the transfer of parts was done by young apprentice lads with barrows. The frames would not have been transferred strictly piled in numeric order, nor handled and treated as such in the enamelling shops. Certainly the storeman would not sort and hang the frames on racks in a numeric sequence. (Business is about making money as efficiently as possible, not playing numbers games.)
When the lad with the barrow turned up at the stores for parts for the assembly of a number of complete machines in the Assembly Shop, the storeman would take the closest to hand; so it was often a case of 'last in, first out'. He wouldn't have had the time or inclination to move all the frames along the racks, or gearboxes and engines along the shelves. On final assembly the engine was number stamped, followed by a code indicating which month the machine was assembled. This would probably have been done by the Assembly Shop Foreman and recorded in a 'long gone' book. So only engine numbers have any significant numerical sequence. There is generally a 'period relationship' between engine frame and gearboxes, but occassionally, at the end of a model production, there maybe extremes. An early frame or gearbox could have stayed way down the far end of stores as other items came and went, only to finally be retrieved as stocks were running low for these last machines. Its impossible to say when a frame was actually welded, coslettised, enamelled and put into stores.

Another point is that frames were often shared among different models. While the engine number series were different for each model, shared frames carried the one number series. The only way that engine and frame numbers could have a direct correlation would be for frames to be stamped at assembly time, along with the engines. The frame stamping would then have broken through the corrosion treatment levels.
Owners today should be happy that the frame treatment has enabled so many frames to have survived in good condition, without being so concerned about whether the frame was welded and stamped a few days ahead or behind the assembly of the engine!

Q. What Transfers go on the Headstock, and whereabouts?

The transfers for the headstock are (1) a Crest transfer as on the tank. This is mounted approximately central, while above it goes (2) a 'Gold Trumpet', just below the frame number.


Q. Why do you often say that a tank is incorrectly lined?

The Model H and most Models SD and R had fuel tanks with a sharp 'cut-of' at the rear. The outer red lining correspondingly followed suit.
When the later, 1927 onward, tanks were introduced with the rear of the tank terminating at a 'point', it would appear that while the central panels followed to a point the outer red line still terminated with a 'cut-off'. This can be seen on all sales and period pictures as well as as on original surviving tanks. Why is it then that those who line tanks in restoration apply what they THINK they see, rather than copying an original picture?


Q. How do you do your tank lining?

The Beugler lining tool, or the much cheaper, unchromed, Rolls lining tool that I have is fine for wheel rim lining, where the tool can be held steady against a stay on a wheel alignment jig while the wheel can be slowly rotated by the other hand. (Be aware that you DO need to use the special lining paint. I don't know what the difference is, but no matter how thick ordinary paint appears to be it still runs and makes a mess.)
HOWEVER, I wouldn't attempt to make a straight line by drawing the tool across a surface, such as on a tank. (It operates in a 'push' mode, rather than a 'pull'.)
I use very narrow 3M tape (about 3mm I think it is.) It can be laid straight, or on a curve, and when doing curves stick down with one hand while drawing with the other. Then it's possible to lift the tape and repeat the operation again in order to make the curve sharper/tighter. The PVC stretches on one side without wrinkling.
So I lay a tape either side of where I want the finished line to be, at the space of the required line. Then with a fine brush I paint the line with Humbrol enamel paint. As soon as the painting of the line is finished, and well before the paint is dry, remove the tape (pulling slightly away from the line). The paint then gently 'oozes' so that a nice smooth edge to the line results on drying. If you wait until the paint is dry the line dries with a sharp 'steep' edge, and it looks for all the world like a taped line.
Practice on something!

Q. Do you have any advice on starting?

Most starting problems are ignition related, so check that you have a good spark and set the timing as suggested on my 'Advice' page.

Sometimes difficulty is experienced in starting is due to oil that has drained through to the crankcase (and it can feel like 'good compression'). The drag on the flywheel due to excessive oil prevents a really good 'kick'. Drain the crankcase and then recharge with just four pumps with the hand or heel pump.

So the proceedure is basically -
1. Do above items.
2. Select neutral gear.
3. Pull clutch lever and operate kickstart to ensure that the clutch is free.
4. Set ignition lever 'half way' between fully advanced and fully retarded.
5. Set throttle lever a little open (maybe an 1/8th inch, but it will often vary
    between bikes and/or atmospheric conditions.)
6. Air/choke lever will depend upon temperature. Try halfway if it's 'summer', or
    maybe fully closed if it's very cold.
7. Press the 'button' on the carb. float chamber until fuel actually runs out of the
    overflow. (Don't keep 'stabbing' at it, as that's how floats can be punctured.)
8. Press down on the kickstart until compression is felt, and then allow it to rise
9. You'll now be starting the 'kick' straight onto compression, so it will need a fair
    bit of 'force', but the good thing is that you've put all that energy into the
    flywheel so that it should make more than one revolution. Actually the
    'kickstart' is badly named as it doesn't need a 'kick', but a nice 'press hard and
    swing', and don't stop at the bottom, but 'follow through'.
10. The engine should start!
11. Over to you - adjust choke and throttle to keep the engine running. Pull clutch
     and select bottom gear. Fully advance the ignition, gently release clutch and
     move off. (Having, of course, observed around you that it is safe to do so!)

Probably initially best done on the main stand, but remember to lift it at some stage, or you won't be going anywhere!

Good luck, Peter.

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