Triumph Terrier 1955 Reborn

This little bike came from T.Cowie, Sunderland on 29 Aug 1955. By 1960 it had had six owners, the verbal story was that in the 60's it was stolen then vandalised by the thieves with a large hammer damaging the engine and putting a few dint's in tank etc. Seems to have been unloved and unlucky.

What happened next is unknown, but a mate of mine bought it as a box of bits in 2009, bought replacement head, barrel and crankcases and that's as far as he got. In 2019, knowing that I was a serial bike restorer, he offered it to me a bargain price (he said). When I stopped laughing he got more realistic with the price.

I had never owned a Terrier or Cub and wasn't that keen, which brought the price down again. (Must remember that might work again). So I made the 400 mile round trip to his place on the west coast of Scotland to see what I had bought. As we stood looking at the boxes of oily, rusty bits, he said it's all there. My how I laughed!

Back home I found the cycle parts were all there and all solid, so this was going to be a rebuild not a restore. The wheels got new tubes and tyres and brake linings. The only problem was the levers, which had had the hammer treatment. They took a bit to straighten, but I got there in the end. The seat was a dual seat which was knackered, and I sold it for a tenner at Scorton autojumble. I replaced it with a single seat. The main stand had seen better days and was replaced with one from a Bantam suitable made to fit. The tank had a big dint in it but luckily it was underneath. Probably the back-swing of the hammer, but it was very clean inside and with a new tap fitted there were no leaks.

I had never worked on a Terrier engine before so I sent off for a parts list and workshop manual. I took the crank up to Richard, our local retired engineer, and he said it seem ok but best to split it and check it out. This was done with oilways cleaned rebuilt and trued up. Next cleaned up the crankcases and tried them for fit. Where the drive-side fits into the main case, they were very tight and would not go fully home - a bit of emery sorted that out. It was a shame I had to change the cases, as the bike came with its buff log book, original Reg and matching No's. I had the original cases but they were too badly damaged to use.

I fitted new drive-side bearing and new timing-side bush and put the crank in just to make sure all was OK. With cases bolted together the crank would not turn. Apart once more it was clear that the thrust collar on the bush was thicker than the old one by about a 1mm. With it turned down to size, it fitted OK. Back apart I fitted the oil return pipe and bolted it up, and the tab washer bent over. With sealer on the case they bolted back for what I thought was the last time. Not to be as the tab washer tab was too long and catching the crank. Don't you just love after-market parts! Only used two and both needed correcting.

Next on the piston, barrel honed and new rings fitted. The book said line the marks up on the cam with the mark on the timing pinion, only there was no mark on the pinion. Gave Richard a ring and he told me just to put it to TDC and line the cam mark to that - sorted. Every build I've ever done I always fit a new pump. This time with it cleaned out it seemed fine, so I just fitted it.

Checked the gearbox with the book, top gear spacer and shim that goes between kick start and first gear missing! Ordered them plus valves, springs, rocker shafts, rockers, spacers, oil feed and push rods from Greystone Enterprises who seem to have everything and at fair prices. When it all arrived there was note saying sorry no push rods. After a search on the 'net and a few phones calls with no luck, I had buy Cub ones.

This is where Steve comes in as I emailed him to see if any one in the TOMCC might know the length of Terrier rods so as I could shorten them to fit. As it turned out I picked the right man, he emailed me straight back with sizes. Another email a few days later with another query and straight back again with answer.

I now fitted the gearbox and the cases followed by the clutch with new plates and primary chain from Greystone. The head was all built up and fitted.

Early on I had sent the distributor to the Distributor Doctor as it was well shot. He did a cracking job, but the price made wince. There were no electrics on the bike other than the rotor, so I just rigged it up with a total loss battery. I'd put an old light switch in the nacelle to use as an on-off switch and wired up the horn from button on the handlebars. Fitted a coil under the seat and with the carb and exhaust on we were good to go.

I have some home-made starter rollers, I just take the spark plug out, stick it in 3rd gear and turn it over for a few minute's. Remember when I said I always fit a new oil pump to rebuilds? Yes you've guessed - 5 minutes later and no oil. Bike back on the bench, I was on phone to Morgo to please send new pump. With new pump fitted and all back together I try again. Oil was through in two minutes. Ran it a bit longer with my finger on the hole to get some up to rockers. Spark plug in, two kicks and she's running first time in over 50 years.