Historian's Notes.

June 2014

Dennis is wrestling with spares manufacture this month: a job that is often more complex than it seems.

The process of manufacturing parts for the Club’s Spares Scheme goes on, of course – much of it behind the scenes. Years ago, when we began selling spares, our stock was bought at knock down prices from Velocette dealers who were getting out of Hall Green products.

As we began to produce our own parts, the Club developed a common sense approach: stock those spares which allow members to keep their machines on the road. So cables and gaskets, pistons and bearings were high on the shopping list. Once we achieved this goal, the Club moved on to original specification items such as the Carrier Assembly – LAS100 (which supports the pillion seat) and legshields.

Starting a new spares manufacturing project from scratch can take some time, but re-ordering an established part ought to be routine. Not necessarily. It’s taken me nearly a year to re-stock LE489 Carburettor Stub Gasket – a straightforward rubber washer which fits between the L.E’s induction pipe and the carburettor. We took a little while to check the material specification. The presence of ethanol in modern pump petrol is having all sorts of effects on original types of fuel related gaskets and seals.  

Samples of our freshly manufactured stock of LE489: they took far longer to make than we expected

This gasket is by our standards a fast seller, so we have ordered 1000 off in the past. This simple washer, a tad under 1in in diameter, ought to have been a straightforward, ‘order, check and pay,’ job. As it turned out, our usual supplier sat on the paperwork for ages, and then alleged that they couldn’t supply in the specified material thickness. An alternative manufacturer suggested a fibre-based material which we decided was too hard to be clamped properly, and thus do its job of achieving and air-tight seal. We returned to the original supplier, who eventually produced the goods – at a decent cost, which has meant that the current selling price will not have to change.

Looking back at the file, I found it contained 28 sheets of paper: golly, so much for a routine re-order.

Once in a while, we know that a restocking project is going to be difficult. Take the fuel filter kit for the Amal 295 (multi-jet) carburettor. Until recently the basis of this package was a sintered bronze filter, sourced from a compressed air application. Our late and much missed member from New Zealand, Leo Bolter, came up with the design. Things were going fine: the filter was cheap to buy in quantity; a Club member – Denis Dunstan – shortened them to fit our application; washers were sourced and an instruction sheet written. And then things changed. The supplier could only provide the whole air line filter kit, not just the inexpensive element. We checked around and soon realised that another approach was needed. A new filter has been designed and another member, Steve Burgess, has tested the prototype and given it the thumbs up. So after many months, an order has now been placed. But in the meantime we have quite a back order of members who would like to buy our filter kit: our apologies to those who are waiting in line.

Spares manufacture is a rewarding task, because it helps to keep our machines mobile. However even the routine re-stocking jobs can be more complicated than they first appear.

Dennis Frost