1955 Matchless G3LS

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  • I’ve been thinking about getting a new bike since selling my last one but I hadn’t seen much that I fancied and space was an issue.

    Seeing a nice scrambler styled Triumph T5 recently got me looking at old British bikes a bit more and I was liking them. Triumph was probably out of my budget but the likes of an Ariel, AJS, BSA, Enfield or Matchless seemed like a good fit.

    Next up was the room to keep it so I had a bit of a tidy up in the garage, shifted some stuff around and managed to make a motorcycle shaped space.

    The IKEA bags are one for the bin, one for stuff to sell or donate and one for scrap metal, I’ll get shot of them soon.

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  • Then it was just a case of finding a bike I liked.

    Wasn’t sure whether to go for a basket case type project and hopefully be able to add value to it or get something that was ready to go. I think I’ve ended up (slightly unwittingly) with something in the middle, more on that in a mo.

    I thought something that was too much of a project could just end up being a money pit so concentrated on bikes that were in running order.

    Ended up finding this 1955 Matchless that included delivery for the asking price but like a mug I offered £500 under the asking price on the condition that I could pick it up.

    It was only 150 miles back from where I’d collect it at Windermere so hoped it’d be alright.

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  • Train from Glasgow to Windermere was only £20 and pretty quick so meet the guy midday on Sunday.

    We had real trouble starting it but it did go eventually and once I got on my way it conked out when I stopped in a lay-by to get a spanner out to tighten up the mirror.

    Started easily enough again at this point though.

    The tools I took and the first stop just starting to climb the kirkstone pass out of Windermere…

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  • It plodded on quite nicely but the engine started pinking just before Gretna.

    I pulled in to a lay-by so I could check where the services were (I was sticking to the back roads so no signposts) and at that point it stalled again and wouldn’t restart.

    I tried kicking it for a while and decided I’d have to investigate further.

    They carb was flooding but the plug was dry so I actually got the carb off and stripped at the roadside and checked that the inlet valve was opening which it was.

    Eventually got it putting fuel into the cylinder but still couldn’t get it started so phoned my old man to see if he could get a van and come pick me up.

    I’d been a bit confused about the choke operation and thought I’d been running it with the choke on but turns out I hadn’t.

    Van hire secured from IKEA (only place that was available on Sunday evening and he started on the 90 minute drive to get me.

    Various bikers and drivers stopped in my lay by to offer their help but it wasn’t for starting and I decided to push the bike towards the Gretna services so I was easier to find.

    I’d tried bump starting it a couple times on the way but the hills were too small. The entrance to Gretna services is a good downhill though so tried again there and it actually started. I managed a few laps of the carpark but it wasn’t running great and the van was only 5 minutes away anyway.

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  • Ended up getting home about half 11 and by the time I ran dad home from dropping the van at IKEA it was past midnight.

    I could hardly walk as I’d been kicking the bike over about a million times and if you’re not careful it’s dead easy to hit the back of your knee on the oil filler cap as you do so!

    Got up yesterday and the doms were really kicking in to my leg (and the rest of me from pushing it the couple miles to the services)!

    It started, fairly easily, yesterday morning but was still flooding and when I let it stall it wouldn’t restart.

    Stripped the carb again and looked at the jetting compared to stock. It’s quite different and it’s actually the wrong model of carb, an Amal 376/8 with a 15/16” bore when it should be a 376/5 with a 1 1/16” bore.

    The slide is also well scored, it’s missing a spring from the choke assembly, the throttle stop is bent and the float bowl has some sort of sealant around it which has crept inside the bowl and made a bit of a mess. The mounting flange was also a bit bowed.

    I’ve ordered some parts to refresh this carb and flattened the flange with some emery paper on a small surface plate I have.

    It might need a new carb but figure out worth trying to save this one first. From what I understand an undersized carb may actually make for more low end torque at the expense of top end speed.

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  • The battery is dead as a dead thing so need to order one of them.

    The inside of the battery box was also a bit crusty and rusty so I’ve cleaned that out and given it a coat of primer.

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  • What an excellent adventure and project. Nice.

  • I decided against owning a classic, but when I did some research, a lot of the old Amal carbs are fickle at best.

    You will probably find advice online (like I did) that you’ll be better served buying a Mikuni, or Keihin, with the correct in/out sizings. Keep the Amal, get it reconditioned, then leave it on the shelf and enjoy a perfectly running bike with a Japanese carb.

    Even the Chinese knock-offs will run better. Worn slide will be making starting and idling hell.

  • Well this is delightfully unexpected..... What's the overall plan for the bike? Cotton wool wrapped trailer queen? Reliable daily or occasional fair weather beast lavished in endless maintenance tasks?

  • Following.

    Just did 600 + miles on my old Beemer this weekend, bikes are just the best!

  • When I was looking at stuff yesterday I considered getting the carb that would be on the Enfield 350s. I think it’s a Mikuni or maybe the oe is a knock off and fitting an actual Mikuni is the upgrade?

    The parts I ordered include a slide and it was only £65ish so probably worth a shot first.

  • It’s got a good bit of patina already so I don’t want to do anything to detract from that so I won’t be polishing it up or doing a ground up resto or anything.

    Get it starting and running a bit better and I’m not going to be bothered about sticking slavishly to the original spec to do so so if like fitting a Mikuni carb will help then I’m down with that.

  • Yea I think that grabbing a brand new genuine Mikuni or Keihin from the states via evilbay works out cheaper than any rebuild of the originals.

    On the pre-65 trials bikes people spend months begging for help with the old carbs, and the smart/tired ones just buy a modern jap carb to replace.

    I’m 100% for keeping a bike original when it’s a classic, but I’d sooner replace moving parts with modern if I plan on actually using it. I appreciate keeping a bike looking classic, but it’s a similar argument to sticking modern rubber on it. Sod 1950’s tyres, I’d put modern compounds on and be glad it grips!

  • Great to hear the tribulations of collecting the bike, although imagine it was quite stressful. Despite the carb being the wrong type sure it'll be a satisfying process returning it to a more stock set-up and getting it running just right.

  • great adventure and project
    best of luck

  • Right, went onto the website I ordered the carb parts from yesterday to get the number to call and cancel my order, before it gets dispatched I'm hoping as they have a 25% handling fee for erroneous orders!

    No sign of my order in my account, call them, no sign of an order.

    Payment has gone through on paypal though..

    Guy on the phone didn't seem willing/able to do anything about paypal so have started a dispute. At least it doesn't look like I'll be paying the restocking fee though!

    Just have to decide between the VM24 or VM26. VM24 is what the enfield 350s have and would match the size of the carb currently fitted (15/16" is pretty much 24mm), VM26 would be a closer match to what should be on the bike (1 1/16" is about 27mm) and have found a forum post from someone that put one on their matchless.

  • I use VM26 ss - good carbs if you have good float needles - I'm very jealous of your Matchless - another beautiful ? relationship begins.

  • A frustrating relationship at the moment but I think once I get the carb sorted it'll be decent.

    Turns out I can't just bolt an enfield 350 carb on as they are flange mount and the bolt width is different to what I have. The 500 carb and the VM26 are spigot mount so whatever I do I'll need to fit an adapter to the head which is best done with allen head bolts so I need to buy the right size bolts.

    I've posted about this in the AQA thread but I guess the people with knowledge of obscure imperial threads are probably in here right?!

    I've read that the studs are 5/16" but that was all the forum post said, 5/16" is 7.9mm and that checks out with the stud I just removed.

    I have metric and whitworth thread pitch gauges, the 22G from the whitworth one seems like a good fit.

    5/16" unf is meant to be 24tpi and unc is 18tpi so I'm pretty close to the unf one.

    I searched for 5/16" whitworth bolt and found this https://www.spaldingfasteners.co.uk/5-16­-bsw-whitworth-12-9-high-tensile-steel-s­ocket-cap-bolts/ but it says the thread pitch is 18tpi.

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  • Oh wait, 5/16" bsf is 22tpi, that must be what I need.

  • Sub'd. Sounds like a great project

  • .

  • The battery that was in the bike was goosed and instead of replacing it I’m going to try a battery eliminator.

    Thing is they cost generally about £30+ ie more than a battery and all they are is one of these or similar in a nice case.

    I figure I can probably hold the capacitor in a p clip attached to an existing hole in the battery box and the battery leads will attach right to the screw terminals on the top.

    What can go wrong?!

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  • Using capacitors is standard practice on some dirt bikes I believe? Lots of people do this as it smooths the power through the lights etc, without the weight of the battery. EDIT: it’s also for FI because of the pump not engaging.

    So long as the reg/rec side of things is safe and can’t shunt over the working range of the capacitor, you should be fine.

  • It has a fairly modern looking Dyno Tec regulator fitted so I’m hoping that will be ok.

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  • Nice. Hopefully you can do a proper order from RS Components and get all the bits and pieces sorted.

    By the way, as I understand, there’s no harm in having a larger capacitor. Longer to charge/discharge, which may work in your favour.

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1955 Matchless G3LS

Posted by Avatar for M_V @M_V